Northern Ireland

Belfast hotel profits drop by 45%

Hotel room

The latest report on the hospitality industry in Northern Ireland has shown that the recession has changed the landscape for the hotel business.

While Belfast has taken a substantial hit in profits of 45%, other regions have benefited, with Londonderry in particular showing an increase of 18%.

Michael Williamson, from consultants ASM Howarth, said regional variations had emerged in the NI industry.

He said Belfast was suffering through a drop-off in business tourists.

Mr Williamson said this has happened because NI had lost its way in the conference market and because of the economic downturn.

"Other parts of Northern Ireland - Derry for example - are less dependent on the business market and attract more of a leisure market and that has been very strong in 2009," he said.

Slow recovery

Meanwhile, in its quarterly economic review, business adviser PricewaterhouseCoopers has said Northern Ireland's economic recovery is lagging behind the rest of the UK and the gap is widening.

In its latest Northern Ireland Economic Outlook (NIEO) PWC says private sector business activity has declined for 31 consecutive months and confidence in NI is now the lowest of the 12 UK regions with further public spending constraints likely to make matters worse.

Esmond Birnie, PwC's chief economist in Northern Ireland, said decades of public spending growth have combined with lacklustre private sector growth to leave NI vulnerable.

"It is not an exaggeration to suggest that the region is facing an economic crisis and that tinkering with current policies is unlikely to have any real impact," he said.

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