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Coronavirus: Northern Ireland hotels 'in limbo' as venues in Republic eye July 20 restart

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Economy Minister Diane Dodds

Economy Minister Diane Dodds

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Economy Minister Diane Dodds

Hotels in Northern Ireland remain in "limbo" as venues across the border plan to reopen in July, it's been claimed.

The Republic's hotels are due to open on July 20, but some reports have suggested that the lifting of restrictions on that date could be accelerated.

No dates are given for reopening hotels or other businesses in the Executive's reopening roadmap.

Bridgene Keeley, director of family-run company McKeever Hotel Group, said the industry here was at a disadvantage.

Her company, which owns the Dunadry, Corr's Corner, Dunsilly and Adair Arms in Co Antrim, is preparing for the reopening of its Dillons Hotel in Letterkenny on July 20.

She said: "I think tourism is part of an all-island agenda and therefore I think Northern Ireland hotels should open at or around the same time as the Irish hotels.

"Not allowing hotels to reopen at the same time would have a significant impact on NI's ability to attract the staycation market and would be at great disadvantage and may impact NI tourism's ability to bounce back quicker."

Economy Minister Diane Dodds has said she is aware of the concerns of the hotel industry here around the lack of certainty over reopening dates.

Ms Keeley added: "We have been working hard for the past number of weeks to ensure the safety and security of all our guests and staff at the hotels when we return. Some examples of this is we have ordered numerous hand sanitising stations around the hotel, screens for reception, and looking at measures to reduce high touch points."

The NI Hotel Federation said interest in staycations had grown since a timeline for reopening had been given in the Republic.

Chief executive Janice Gault said: "Consumer sentiment shows a willingness to travel on the island of Ireland, with the desire to have a holiday growing week on week.

"This is an opportunity that we are missing out on, with the lack of certainty giving rise to considerable frustration for hoteliers north of the border, as we are unable to take bookings and have had to reject inquiries.

"In reality, domestic tourism will be the only viable market this year and it is disappointing if local hotels are not in a position to take bookings at this time.

"It is important to note the date July 20 was always an indicative one for hotels in the south and may yet move to an earlier date."

She added: "The current land of limbo that we find ourselves in really is the worst of all worlds."

Belfast Telegraph