Northern Ireland opens up today Monday May 24th with a return to almost normality. In the hospitality industry the changes are:
- People can eat indoors and outdoors with a maximum of six people per table, children under 12 will not be counted in this number. Up to 10 will be permitted if all are from the same household.
- Table service only
- Masks must be worn when not sitting at the table, for toilet visits.
- Contact details must be taken and retained by the establishment.
- Social distancing will be one metre.
- There will be no meal requirement.
- No gaming machines or pool tables can be in use.
- And no dancing for the moment, and only ambient music.
When asked about tourism from the Republic of Ireland, Julie Hastings of Hastings Hotels, Northern Ireland largest hotel group, said, “currently 65% of booking are from NI and the rest are from Republic of Ireland in the main. We are certainly seeing an increase from there as we did last summer – the staycation market is very strong.
All Hastings hotels are fully booked for the next few weekends at least. The city centre hotels are doing well because of shops and attractions and also restaurants and bars now open again
The Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, Co Down and Ballygally Castle in Antrim are also fully booked with leisure traffic and weddings. The Everglades in Derry is getting a good level of business from Donegal.
Van Morrison Concerts
The Van Morrison concerts in the Europa Hotel, Belfast in August are filling, with a good proportion of bookings coming from the republic”
Janice Gault of the Northern Ireland Hotel Federation said, “currently there has been good interest from customers from the south which have converted into reasonable levels of bookings. We expect this to pick up as the summer unfolds and there is an opportunity to promote a staycation in Northern Ireland. “
She went on to say that many hotels are offering all-inclusive deals as customers appear to be keen on in-house dining. There has been a noticeable degree of pent-up demand, particularly at the weekends, which has seen strong trading for the coming weeks.
Across the Province there are some destinations which are very busy particularly over the traditional holiday months of July and August. However, most areas are reporting strong pick up even in urban locations.
Ms Gault said when asked about the spread of business, “Northern Ireland is relatively easy to explore which gives flexibility when choosing your accommodation.”