Travel restrictions

Relaxation of travel restrictions in the Republic reduced the number of restaurateurs in the North

The easing of travel restrictions in the Republic has slowed a flow of stays in the north, but hoteliers say visitors from the south continue to boost business in the region.

Belfast’s Fitzwilliam Hotel said over the weekend that a large number of Republic holidaymakers had helped ensure it was full since it reopened in May.

Visitors to the south of the hotel have more than tripled since the Covid-19 strike, accounting for 55% of Fitzwilliam guests, ahead of local guests and those from Britain.

Janice Gault, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, noted that there had been “some decline” since the Republic eased travel restrictions last month.

She added that the southern market remains vibrant, with people seeing it as a destination to compete with Galway and Cork.

“In many ways, the pandemic has repositioned cities like Belfast and Derry with people keen to visit a new place with limited options in the short term,” Ms. Gault said.

Fitzwilliam Hotel General Manager Cian Landers said there was still enormous potential for business growth in the Republic following a steady increase in visitor numbers in recent years.

He noted that customers from the south were now the property’s largest market. “Pre-Covid which would have been totally reversed with the number of visitors to the Republic of Ireland languishing behind Britain, the United States and Northern Ireland,” he added.

The hotel, a sister property to Fitzwilliam in Dublin, is expected to remain full until September.

Ms Gault said hotels in the North sold 75.3% of their rooms in July, with Belfast’s occupancy rate rising to 73.8%.

“The hope is that summer visitors from the south who have enjoyed their experience will act as advocates and that we can continue to develop this market. “

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