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City Hall under fire from hotel sector over events policy

Belfast City Council says it is reviewing the policy of City Hall being used for external events as a local hotels' group hit out at the venue being offered free to host functions.

The Northern Ireland Hotels Federation wrote a letter to council claiming that not charging for room hire was competing directly against hotels. The City Hall hosted 600 events last year and reopened 18 months ago after a major renovation.

The federation claimed the City Hall appeared to "be available at a knock-down price for any event staged in the city". However, Belfast City Council said current policy permits events in line with the council's corporate priorities, such as promoting tourism, city leadership and community engagement.

"The use of the City Hall is not permitted for commercial events such as receptions or company social events," an official spokesman told the Belfast Telegraph.

"Bids to bring conferences or events to Belfast over other possible destinations are often boosted if a dinner in the City Hall is part of the package and hotels reap the rewards also as it brings business in the form of room occupancy. It is also worth pointing out that Belfast City Council provides financial support of £1.8m to support the marketing of Belfast through the Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau.

"A major part of the work is promoting Belfast as a city break destination which clearly benefits all our hotels," the City Hall spokesman added.