Easing travel restrictions in Republic has reduced number of staycationers to North

Hoteliers in the North say southern visitors continue to boost business in the region

The Titanic Belfast building in the North

The Titanic Belfast building in the North

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Easing travel restrictions in the Republic has slowed a flood of staycationers to the North, but hoteliers there say southern visitors continue to boost business in the region.

Belfast’s Fitzwilliam Hotel said at the weekend that large numbers of holidaymakers from the Republic helped ensure that it was fully booked since reopening in May.

Visitors from the South to the hotel have more than trebled since Covid-19 struck, accounting for 55 per cent of the Fitzwilliam’s guests, ahead of local customers and those from Britain.

Janice Gault, chief executive, Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, noted that there had been “some fall-off” since the Republic eased travel curbs last month.

She added that the southern market remained buoyant, with people seeing it as a destination to compete with the likes of Galway and Cork.

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

Fitzwilliam Hotel general manager Cian Landers said there was still huge potential to grow business from the Republic following a steady increase in visitors in recent years.

He noted that southern guests were now the property’s biggest market. “Pre-Covid that would have been totally reversed with Republic of Ireland visitor numbers languishing behind Britain, the United State and Northern Ireland, ” he added.

The hotel, a sister property to the Fitzwilliam in Dublin, expects to remain full booked through September.

Ms Gault said that hotels in the North sold 75.3 per cent of their rooms in July, with Belfast’s occupancy at 73.8 per cent.

“The hope is that summer southern visitors who have enjoyed their experience will act as advocates and that we can continue to grow this market.”

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