Northern Ireland's hotel industry is reeling from the decline in visitor numbers from the Republic, as the latest statistics show stagnant performance.
Although the latest hotel industry survey by ASM Chartered Accountants shows that occupancy rates rose by 1.5% to 77.5% in 2015, the ratio of bedroom bookings by visitors from southern Ireland was stagnant at 8.9%.
According to The Irish News, the sizable difference in VAT rate for hotels between the North and South (20% and 9%, respectively) is being blamed for keeping visitors away during an otherwise successful period in Northern Irish tourism.
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Drawing on a positive performance from the European and North American markets, RevPAR and average price per room increased during the year, the latter up by 5.8% to £74.91.
The Northern Irish hospitality sector has made a number of calls to reduce the VAT rate in recent months. Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster says the representative body has been asking to reduce the rate to as little as 5%.