Plan for 280-bedroom family-focused hotel in Belfast's Titanic Quarter
A London-based hospitality concern has announced plans to build a hotel next to Titanic Belfast.
JMK Group is proposing a 280-bedroom 'family-friendly' hotel for the tourist hotspot, which would make it one of the biggest in the city.
Expected to be open at Hamilton Dock by the summer of 2021, the company said it wants to capitalise on the family-focused attractions in the Titanic Quarter by dedicating 100 rooms to families.
Belfast firm RMI Architects will design it, but no hotel brand has yet been identified.
JMK is run by the Kajani family, which already operates four hotels in London along with a Holiday Inn Express on O'Connell Street in Dublin and the Waterford Marina Hotel.
It is undergoing a significant expansion in the Republic.
A 421-bed Holiday Inn hotel is currently under construction at Dublin Airport, while a 249-bed Hampton by Hilton is going up next to the Four Courts in Dublin city centre.
The group is also seeking to launch its K's Hotel brand in north Dublin and its new K's Coffee House outlets at the new airport and city centre hotels. A 31,600sq ft office tower at Dublin Airport is also in the works.
Headed by John Kajani, the JMK Group has now turned its attentions north of the border.
Unveiling the new plan yesterday, the company described Northern Ireland as a market with huge scope for tourism-led ventures.
JMK said it is actively seeking other opportunities within Belfast.
The hotel group said: "This project is about making a strategic investment in Belfast's tourism sector, meeting the increasing demand from families who see Belfast and Titanic Quarter as a family-friendly destination.
"We believe that the growth of the tourist sector in Belfast and Northern Ireland has an exciting future. Titanic Belfast is among the leading tourist destinations in the world so we are confident that tourism will continue to be an engine of economic growth for Belfast and that is why we are investing in that future, tailoring our offer to the needs of the city.
"JMK group will be able to bring a wealth of experience in the tourism and hospitality sector to Belfast.
"We already have a presence in the Republic of Ireland - in Dublin and Waterford - as well as a lot of experience in the London hotel market."
Belfast-based planning consultants Turley said strong tourism figures had helped attract JMK's investment.
Figures from 2017 put the annual number of overnight trips here at 4.9 million, helping generating £926m.
"Tourism is a key driver of Belfast and Northern Ireland's economy and Titanic Quarter is home to three of Northern Ireland's top five visitor attractions, Titanic Belfast, SS Nomadic and W5," said Brian Kelly, director at Turley.
"Since 2012, Titanic Belfast has attracted over five million visitors from across 145 countries and was awarded the accolade of world's leading tourist destination at the prestigious World Travel Awards in 2016."