Church, world of business and politicians pay tribute
Warm tributes were paid to Sir William Hastings last night from a diverse range of voices - inclduing those from a bishop, politicians and the business community.
Bishop of Down and Dromore Harold Miller expressed his sympathies. "I am so sorry to hear of the death of Sir Billy Hastings. Billy contributed enormously to the development of the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland during and after the Troubles," he said in a statement last night.
"Most people would have given up, but Billy's steely determination and love for his homeland meant that he kept going - sometimes almost alone. He was a regular worshipper in Down Cathedral, and gave priority to Sunday worship when he was away from home. He will be greatly missed."
Former UUP leader Lord Empey described him as "the leading light in Northern Ireland's tourism and hospitality industry when it wasn't such a popular path to follow", while councillor Jim Rodgers recalled: "He was a man I looked up to and I held him in the highest regard. You could have called Billy at any time of the day or night to seek help or advice and he never turned you away."
Janice Gault, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Hotel Federation, said: "Sir William Hastings was a true visionary and well ahead of his time. He will be remembered as a real champion of tourism and a stalwart of the local hotel sector."
Colin Neill, CEO Hospitality Ulster paid tribute to Mr Hasting's role in kick-starting an industry here. He said: "...he has left a legacy which has formed the foundation for our now successful tourism industry. It is suiting that with his family so embedded in the industry, his legacy will be carried on for generations to come."
Visit Belfast said: "We unite in honouring his lifetime of exemplary and inspiring business achievement, and, in particular, his exceptional contribution to Belfast and Northern Ireland's tourism and hospitality success."