There have been many encouraging signs that the hospitality industry is on the up and certainly we have seen some good signs of that revival in recent months with the opening of some exciting new pubs and restaurants in Belfast.
However, growth outside of Belfast is slower and work still needs to be done to help the industry flourish in other areas.
Recent large-scale events such as the Giro d'Italia and the Great Ulster Pub Week have brought local people and tourists from further afield into Ulster's fine pubs to sample the great food, drink and entertainment on offer here.
There is still a way to go, however, before our industry would consider itself booming again.
There are still many publicans who are struggling to make ends meet and keep their pubs afloat when many consumers are still treading carefully in terms of nights in town or down at their local. The review and modernisation of the liquor licensing system is one such measure that can help our industry and we are encouraged to see that the Department for Social Development will soon be outlining its plans on how our licensing system can be modernised so that it is fit for the 21st century, whilst still continuing to be adequately regulated.
- Colin Neill is chief executive of Pubs of Ulster