Northern Ireland hotel bookings ‘very strong’ over last month
There is “huge appetite” across the world to visit Northern Ireland once the Covid-19 pandemic is over, the manager of a Belfast hotel has said.
The previous “stay local” message has also been removed with people able to visit friends or family in the UK or Ireland.
A traffic light system has been introduced for foreign travel, with currently 12 countries on the green list.
Prior to the pandemic, Northern Ireland’s tourism industry had been flourishing.
Grand Central Hotel general manager Stephen Meldrum said the appetite for international travel is still out there, particularly in North America.
“Bookings have been very strong, over the last four weeks we have seen a marginal increase in bookings, particularly at the weekends where people want to come to the city centre and enjoy various parts of hospitality,” he said.
“It’s obviously going to be a little bit of time before we will be able to welcome back international guests, but our sales team have been saying that the appetite for international travel is huge, particularly with the North American market, who really want to get back to Northern Ireland and experience the great hospitality we have to offer.”
Economy Minister Diane Dodds said she believes more people will take a staycation in Northern Ireland this summer.
“Many within the sector are already reporting really strong demand in Northern Ireland,” she said.
“That’s really good, but it’s not enough. Our first steps for visitors will be within the British Isles as a whole.
“We look forward to the return of international travel but realise that for many that may be a little bit off yet.”
Janice Gault of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation said the majority of hotels will open this week, while some others have some work to do and plan to reopen later.
“They all intend to reopen, looking forward to having a strong staycation season,” she said.
“The current travel situation is a little bit uncertain but the staycation market was very strong last year and we see this continuing into this year.
“Many people have added a staycation into their normal international travel pattern and we hope that that is something that will continue.”