The farce around the Garth Brooks concerts will have ramifications for the hospitality industry north of the border, as well as south.
That is the claim of one leading spokesman for the hotel and pub trade, as uncertainty continued to hover over whether any of the proposed gigs will actually go ahead.
Yesterday evening, Aiken PR – representing the promoter Peter Aiken – said work was still ongoing to try and find a solution to the impasse, although offered no further details as to what this might be.
Meanwhile a spokesman for Ticketmaster said that, as far as they were concerned, the concerts were still cancelled and they were continuing to prepare cash refunds for the 400,000 ticketholders – many of whom are from outside the island.
Last night Colin Neill, chief executive of Pubs of Ulster (which, despite the name, also represents tourist attractions like Titanic Belfast and a large number of hotels), said it would have a knock-on effect for the Province’s economy.
While Dublin would bear the brunt, he said: “I think we will feel some of the loss, whether it be cancelled weekends to Belfast, (or) just the longer term reputational damage. These things are hard to measure.”
He indicated such “reputational damage” could stem from the fact the island is often just promoted as one whole destination, and many outsiders would not really appreciate the difference between north and south.
Out of the 400,000 tickets sold for the five gigs in Dublin, 15 per cent were reportedly bought in Northern Ireland, 12 per cent in the mainland UK, and three per cent from the USA – with purchases made across continental Europe too.
However, there may be a silver lining of sorts for the Province’s hospitality sector, said Mr Neill.
If the concerts never happen, those in Northern Ireland who were planning to go would still have the night booked off and some spare cash in their pockets.
They may tell themselves: “We might not have got Brooks, but we’ll have a good night anyway.”