Belfast Telegraph

Belfast council considering £2 charge for City Hall tours

By Rebecca Black

Taking a look round the newly refurbished Belfast City Hall could soon cost visitors £2, it can be revealed.

But the charge will only be for those taking part in a large group tour.

Work has been under way at the historic building to create a new exhibition area.

Previously tours of City Hall were free, although commercial groups had started to be charged in the last six months.

Minutes to be considered by councillors tomorrow reveal that there has been a proposal to continue separate entrance charges for commercial tour groups - from cruise ships, for example - where each participant would pay a "significant premium to the relevant tour operators". "This mirrors the approach recently adopted by the committee in relation to the council's standard public tour offer and which has produced additional income of £12,067 in the 2016/17 financial year to date (first six months)," the minutes read.

"It is proposed to adopt the same approach to charging for the new exhibition area, and would involve a charge broadly in the order of £2 per person, but with discounts available in respect of the provision of multilingual headsets when booked as a group, in order to encourage use and enhance income.

"This would generate estimated additional income of £61,425."

Located in the east wing of City Hall, it's hoped the exhibition, set to open in the spring, will become a major attraction for both locals and tourists. Spread over 18 rooms, the exhibition will display the council's memorabilia collection and narrate an historical interpretation of the city.

Work has been carried out for months among councillors to agree the narrative for the display.

The council's strategic policy and resources committee is due to debate whether there should be an entrance charge at its meeting tomorrow.

It was originally proposed that entrance should be free, with charges for headset hire, souvenir booklet and app downloads.

A £1 admission charge was also considered, but council officers are recorded in the minutes as concluding that the administration associated with this would outweigh the benefit.

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