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Diane Dodds refuses to give date for reopening of NI hotels, B&Bs and caravan sites

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Caravan sites, hotels and B&Bs have been shut since the lockdown began

Caravan sites, hotels and B&Bs have been shut since the lockdown began

Caravan sites, hotels and B&Bs have been shut since the lockdown began

Economy Minister Diane Dodds would not reveal if hotels, caravan sites and B&Bs will be given a definitive date to reopen when the Executive announces an update next week.

Speaking at Friday afternoon’s Covid-19 daily briefing, the DUP MLA, who was speaking alongside the Chief Executive of Invest NI Kevin Holland, also said it is “always regrettable” when jobs are lost.

This came after Belfast International Airport announced that it will lay off up to 45 staff due to fears that the airline industry will not bounce back quickly enough from the coronavirus crisis.

It was announced on Thursday that hotels can take advance bookings early next month if the infection rate remains low but no date for their reopening has been set.

Elsewhere, caravan sites and B&Bs also remain shut.

Mrs Dodds explained that she has raised her concerns to the Executive and her fellow ministers agreed to provide an update on the matter early next week.

“I have raised my concerns that our hotels are at a disadvantage compared to the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain who have already started to take bookings,” she stated.

“Ministers have agreed to give this matter further consideration and provide an update early next week.

“This, along with the position of caravan sites, bed and breakfasts and hospitality in general, are of the upmost concern.”

The Upper Bann MLA added that a timetable for reopening would be “useful” for the hotel sector.

She continued: “It’s no secret that I have had extensive contacts with the hotel, hospitality and tourism sectors.

“Many of our hotels feel that they have been disadvantage by not having an indicative timetable to start taking bookings again, particularly when we compare that to the situation in the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain.

“I have brought this to the Executive and we had a very good discussion on this on Thursday and I will be bringing further papers to the Executive at the start of the week where I hope that further progress can be made.

“It isn't just for the hotel industry, there are many people with touring caravan sites and bed and breakfast accommodation who are in exactly the same situation.”

Belfast Telegraph