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Top Belfast hotelier calls for more cash to promote tourism

Published 31/01/2016

Howard Hastings
Howard Hastings

Howard Hastings, managing director of Hastings Hotels, said greater investment would lead to economic growth.

One of Northern Ireland's leading hoteliers has said it is bizarre that more money is not being given to the agencies which market tourism in NI.

Mr Hastings is chairman of Hastings Hotels which owns the Slieve Donard in Newcastle, Stormont Hotel, Europa and Culloden in Belfast, Ballygally Castle near Larne and the Everglades in Derry - as well as a 50% share in Dublin's luxury hotel the Merrion with radiator magnate Martin Naughton and ESB chairman Lochlann Quinn.

His newest project is the forthcoming Grand Central Hotel for which his firm purchased Windsor House on Bedford Street last year for £6.5m.

However Mr Hastings says Stormont is not investing enough in tourism.

He told the BBC's Inside Business programme that much more needs to be done to promote existing attractions.

"The failure we make is not marketing more comprehensively," he said.

"It seems bizarre when we want to rebalance our economy away from our dependence on the public sector to more private sector led.

"There's nothing more private sector than the tourism economy.

"By denying the marketing funds to the marketing agencies we're giving up our chances of securing that private sector growth that we seek."

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