Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Ulster B&Bs priced out of the market

Letters to the editor should be sent to: 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1EB. E-mail: writeback@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Why has the Northern Ireland Tourist Board had nothing to say about the Giant's Causeway visitors' centre issue? Their silence is deafening!

If developer Seymour Sweeney was a little old lady running a B&B the NITB would have had so much to say that he would either give up in disgust or double his prices to comply with all their rules and regulations.

Everywhere I have been, not just Europe, but Asia, America, Africa and South America (sorry I'm starting to brag), I can get a clean, comfortable place to sleep for a few euros/dollars/rupees, or whatever. I can buy any breakfast I want in the hotel/cafe/bar/street corner.

Do you know that the average Northern Ireland rural B&B is three times more expensive than a good two-star hotel in Paris?

That is not the fault of the friendly, hospitable and hard working B&B owners, it's because of the NITB regulations. It's an open secret that, within the hospitality (not tourist) industry, NITB inspectors are known as the 'tourism prevention officers'. In this era of cheap flights Northern Ireland prices itself out of a booming market.

So why has the NITB got nothing to say about the visitors' centre?

The function of a visitors' centre is to provide refreshments, some souvenirs relevant to the site and toilet facilities.

If anything in this silly country falls within the remit of the NITB, it is the regulation of a visitors' centre.

So the crux of the whole row really is 'who is going to make all the money?'

Personally, I don't care, but I would like to see our elected representatives and public servants either building, or approve someone else building, a few decent loos and some retail outlets (that every business man in the country, including myself, would be clamouring to rent) and then getting on with important issues, such as disbanding the NITB and using the money saved to employ a few more police officers.

Proletarian, Portstewart

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