Hospitality Ulster CEO Comments On Tourism Sector Spending
24 August 2018
Tourism Sector Reaches Almost £1 Billion Spending, Imagine What Could be Done With a Proper Tourism Strategy, Hospitality Ulster CEO Says
Today’s latest tourism figures are to be welcomed. Once again we see an increase in the number of tourists in the province, the number of overnight stays and a rise in the total value of tourist spending.
This isn’t a one-off, this is part of a trend which shows the continued strength of tourism in Northern Ireland, which for so long was a sleeping giant.
Tourists spent almost £940 million in the 12 months to April 2018. That is a remarkable figure and shows that we are edging close to £1 billion in tourist spending per year. That money helps support businesses across Northern Ireland and is a massive boost to the overall economy.
Credit must go to all of the hard working publicans, restauranteurs and hoteliers who play a vital role in our tourist offering.
However, think how much more we could achieve if Northern Ireland was in a position to make decisions, to offer a joined up tourist strategy, to amend outdated licensing laws, to look at issues such as business rates which are hampering our tourist offering and stopping development.
We need to see a strategy that spreads our growing tourism spread right across the province and which brings fresh business to our small, hard workings pubs and restaurants across the whole of NI.
Of course with Brexit negotiations ongoing, today’s figures underline the importance of maintaining the hospitality sector’s access to labour. There is a need to fill 30,000 vacancies by 2024 and it is very obvious that having access to suitably skilled workers is essential.
Our tourist and hospitality sector is, in effect, fighting with one hand tied behind its back. It is high time that either local politicians, or others, took the necessary decisions to help.