Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland hotel loses £10k booking after US tourists cancel over Eleventh Night disturbances

By Brett Campbell

A Newtownards hotel has suffered a major loss after dozens of US students pulled out of a trip to Northern Ireland due to violence on the Eleventh night.

Guy Metcalfe, who owns the Strangford Arms Hotel in Co Down, said the last-minute cancellation by the group of 75 had cost the family business almost £10,000.

"It has been a huge blow for us," he said.

"Not only is there a cost to our business, but to the whole community as well."

The hotelier tried in vain to convince the Americans they had nothing to fear after violence erupted last Thursday night.

"I tried to assure them that these incidents had been isolated and were not on any routes," Mr Metcalfe said.

"They still decided to cancel their entire booking. Their critical reaction team felt it was too dangerous for them to come to Northern Ireland."

Mr Metcalfe told the Newtownards Chronicle that due to the short notice, he was unable to resell the rooms on July 13 and 14.

The cancellation came within 24 hours of a bus being hijacked in the town by masked loyalists.

The driver and passengers were forced off at gunpoint in the West Winds estate before the £200,000 bus was set on fire.

Strangford DUP MP Jim Shannon said the "paramilitary godfathers" responsible for depriving the area of economic advantages should be held accountable.

"The mindless activities of a small group have ruined a trip for American tourists and have taken away business from the constituency," he said.

"Those involved in this criminal activity should be ashamed of themselves."

He also slammed those who torched tyres outside a care home, saying it was "horrendous that elderly residents were affected by a suffocating thick black cloud of smoke".

Belfast Telegraph

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