Belfast Telegraph

Irish hotels report fall in advance bookings from Northern Ireland

By John Mulligan

Nearly one-fifth of Irish hoteliers have seen a fall in forward bookings from Northern Ireland because of the weakness of the pound.

A survey by the Irish Hotel Federation (IHF) also reported that 66% of hoteliers in the Republic had seen an increase in the number of Christmas parties and events this year as companies loosen the purse strings again after austerity.

But nearly 20% of those surveyed by the IHF said there had been a fall in the number of forward bookings from customers in Northern Ireland, who until this year had been able to take advantage of the strong pound to secure deals.

About 30% of hotel owners, meanwhile, have seen a drop in the number of bookings being made from Britain.

The pound has lost around one-fifth of its value since the vote to leave the EU in June.

But yesterday, Ireland's biggest hotel operator Dalata, which operates three hotels in Northern Ireland, said it had seen no impact from Brexit.

Some 82% of hoteliers in the Republic saw an increase in business during the year.

The industry benefited from an 11% increase in overseas visitors to Ireland over the time period, reflecting significant growth in key markets over the past 11 months.

Visitor numbers were also up from the overseas market to Northern Ireland, with a rise of 6% to 2.1 million, according to Tourism Ireland.

The federation said the future for the sector remained unclear.

"The continued uncertainty over Brexit and the fall in the value of sterling are casting a shadow over the industry," warned the federation," added IHF president Joe Dolan.

"There are good reasons to be optimistic about our key North America and European markets in the coming year.

"However, there are signs that growth is slowing out of the UK market."

Belfast Telegraph