By Helen Evans THE untimely death of 27-year-old Michaela McAreavey in Mauritius 'will most likely affect the number of people from Northern Ireland who visit the island', according to a Ballymoney Travel Agent.
The daughter of Tyrone Gaelic football boss Mickey Harte was murdered whilst on honeymoon on 17th January. Michaela was staying at the luxury Legends beach resort. It is described in the 2010 edition of 'The Fine Art of Tailored Travel' as a 'relaxing and rejuvenating stay'.
However speaking to the Times Derek Wray from McCurdy Hamilton Ltd Travel on Main Street said: "Mauritius is a popular destination for local couples, especially honeymooners. It is very upmarket, attracting a lot of wealthy people.
"In my opinion, this crime will most likely affect the number of people from Northern Ireland who visit the island. People can choose to visit anywhere in the world so I believe they will simply choose to go somewhere else."
However, despite Michaela's murderers being arrested, Mr Wray believes this won't be enough to reassure local people that Mauritius is a safe holiday destination.
He explained: "This will undoubtedly affect the island. During the Troubles, indeed to this day, tourists are reluctant to visit Northern Ireland because of its violent reputation.
"Mauritius must be quaking in its boots because people will now be more likely to choose luxury holidays in the Maldives, Seychelles or the Caribbean.
"However, it is too soon to note a change in the number of tourists from Northern Ireland visiting the island. This has been a very high profile case which has made UK news.
"Mr and Mrs McAreavey believed that Legends was a secure resort and this tragedy could not have been predicted. However, Mauritius is totally dependent on tourism and Michaela's death will be detrimental to Legends. Furthermore, I predict a definite decline in the number of visitors to Mauritius for at least six months."