Southern holidaymakers flock north for Easter
Hotels within easy reach of the border have been enjoying a bumper Easter weekend as tourists flock north from the Republic to take advantage of the weak pound.
The parlous state of the south’s economy has encouraged thousands to make their way over the border in recent months to shop.
Now hotels are indicating a similar bonus, with southern visitors taking advantage of the Easter break to indulge in overnight stays or weekend getaways.
Hotels in Londonderry, Newry and Enniskillen are all experiencing a significant rise in occupancy over the weekend, with many establishments reporting a 20% rise in numbers.
“There’s definitely been an increase in business and the weak pound to the euro is paying a big dividend,” said Issam Horshi, president of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation.
“Last year was a bad one for hotels but things are looking up. It’s a great boost for the whole area.”
Mr Horshi owns and manages the White Horse Inn, on the outskirts of Derry, and he indicated trade is up 20% from last year’s Easter Holiday.
Meanwhile John Toner, manager of the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, also reported a 20% increase, with around 10-15% more guests coming from across the border.
“Easter fell early last year and business was down 7-8% from previous years,” said Mr Toner. “But even allowing for last year’s drop off, this year is a significant rise from even two years ago.”
It’s a similar story in Fermanagh as hotels in Enniskillen report a similar boost in trade. Jonathan Gallagher, sales and marketing Manager at the Killyhevlin Hotel, said: “There has been a greater impact upon our wedding business with many couples from the Republic taking advantage of the current exchange rate,” he added.
Adele McCourt, from Greencastle, Co Donegal, was one of many southern visitors who booked an Easter getaway in Fermanagh for her family.
“We’re staying near Lough Erne and it’s really good value,” she said. “We looked further south — in Donegal and towards Westport — but it was much more expensive.
“It was better this year than ever before. Usually at this time of year we’d have a foreign holiday booked as well but we haven’t this year because were waiting and times are tough. The deals in the north we’re better this year.
“Many of our neighbours are doing the same thing as us, looking across the border for holidays.”