MTV AWARDS HIGHTLIGHT NEED FOR CHANGE IN LICENSING LAWS

MTV AWARDS HIGHTLIGHT NEED FOR CHANGE IN LICENSING LAWS

08 April 2011

The representative body of the licensed trade in Northern Ireland, Pubs of Ulster, is calling for a change in legislation that would allow pubs and nightclubs extended opening hours for special events and occasions.

The call from Pubs of Ulster comes in the wake of the recent announcement that the MTV European Music Awards will be held in Belfast on Sunday 6th November 2011. Whilst the event will be a major boost for the city the full economic benefit will be limited by current licensing legislation. Explaining the limitations of current licensing legislation, Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Pubs of Ulster said: �Securing The MTV European Music Awards is a major achievement by Belfast City Council and the positive impact of events like this cannot be overstated. However, securing the MTV event has highlighted the difficulties in our licensing legislation and the fact that it does not allow for events that require extended opening hours or for events that take place at times that have restricted opening hours. �This event, and others like it, is an opportunity to show visitors what Northern Ireland has to offer and to maximise the return on the Northern Ireland Assembly�s considerable investment in tourism. We are currently in discussions with the Northern Ireland Tourism Board, Belfast City Council and the Department of Social Development to explore the possibility of changes to legislation that will be of benefit to residents, visitors and industry alike.� Tourism now plays a significant role in the Northern Ireland economy and a range of major events including Titanic 2012, Capital of Culture, the World Clipper Race and the World Police & Fire Games are expected to attract large numbers of visitors over the next few years. Home grown events such as the Irish Dancing Championships are also growing in international significance and attracting visitors. The pub trade in Northern Ireland is now recognised as a major sector in the local tourism industry and it is one of the largest grossing sectors in relation to tourism spend. Recent figures from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board show that 80 per cent of all tourists visit a pub and 70 per cent eat in a pub during their stay here. Popular travel guide �Lonely Planet� also lists visiting a pub as the number one thing to do when visiting Northern Ireland. Colin Neill concludes: �There is now a compelling case for revising the legislation. As a responsible industry we recognise the need for regulation and control of the sale of alcohol but we also recognise that Northern Ireland is now competing on the international stage and as such needs to provide an offer that can meet the needs of our market. One where our industry can play its part and in so doing contribute to the growth of tourism in Northern Ireland.�