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Leading Belfast hotel cuts losses and is optimistic for future growth

Latest financial accounts show one of Belfast's most prestigious hotels cut its losses in 2011 and was on course to improve its financial position in 2012.

The Fitzwilliam Hotel, on the city's Great Victoria Street, said it made a pre-tax loss of £256,783 in 2011, an improvement of around £40,000 on the previous year.

Before interest payments it made a £175,000 profit, up from a £68,600 loss in 2010, but that was wiped out by an interest charge of £432,000, according to accounts of parent firm Graffan Hotel Ltd filed at Companies House.

They revealed that the hotel's director June Burgess "expects the trading position to continue to improve" for the year ahead.

That year refers to 2012 when Northern Ireland's hotels are said to have been boosted by an inflow of tourists as a result of the opening of Titanic Belfast and other events, part of the Our Time, Our Place campaign by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

The Fitzwilliam, which is approaching its fourth birthday in March, should have been ideally placed to take advantage of that boost, despite official figures painting a less positive performance by the tourist industry.

Statistics provided to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research and Agency reveal, between January and September 2012, around 1m overseas visitors stayed at least one night in Northern Ireland, a decrease of 12% compared with the same period in 2011.

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Still, the data shows that occupancy rates for Northern Ireland's hotels climbed 11% over the same period, mostly domestic visitors.