Northern Irish tourism could be boosted by a change in the law which would allow ramblers to cross over private land, effectively opening up a large number of new longer-distance walking routes which would be popular with tourists.
At present most publically owned land in Northern Ireland is available for recreation, largely due to organisations such as the National Trust.
However, there are issues with privately-owned land, where the public and tourists have no existing right of access.
Landowners have expressed reservations about any change in the law which would allow tourists onto their land. They cite the fear that they could be held responsible for any death or serious injury resulting from an accident whilst on their land.
Under existing law, landowners fear being held responsible under the Occupiers' Liability laws which impose a duty of care on landowners towards 'visitors'.
However, it is thought that this fear could be hampering efforts to boost tourism in the region and now the Ulster Federation of Rambling Clubs (UFRC) has spoken out to ask for a change in the law.
Alan McFarland is the chairman of the UFRC, which represents 32 walking groups in Northern Ireland.
"Access to land is crucial for all walkers, but in Northern Ireland we only have a legal right to walk on public roads, public rights of way and public footpaths," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"We need to play catch-up with the Republic (of Ireland) where a 1995 Act provides safeguards for the landowner in that the duty of care to a recreational user is not to injure such people or damage their property," he added.
Similar laws already in place in England and Wales limit the liability of landowners to situations in which they intentionally or wilfully put visitors at risk.
The UFRC believes that until the law is changed Northern Ireland will continue to miss out on the growing popularity in walking holidays.
Hiking law change could bring a tourism bonanza (The Belfast Telegraph)