Northern Ireland's Hastings Hotels has said that it has experienced an increase in enquiries following confirmation by Northern Irish minister for the economy Diane Dodds that hotels can reopen from July 20.
Hastings Hotels managing director Howard Hastings stated that the company is now looking to attract tourists from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland.
The Irish Times quotes Hastings as saying, "People on the island of Ireland spend £4 billion annually on overseas summer holidays, and we are delighted to have the opportunity that now exists to persuade them to try somewhere new, at home.
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"Surveys suggest that there are 2.5 million people in the Republic of Ireland who have never spent a night in Northern Ireland. We will be working with Tourism Northern Ireland to persuade these people to visit for the first time, and to persuade others to return.
"The executive's decision to reopen hotels on July 20, announced by economy minister Diane Dodds, has unlocked that opportunity. As a result, our enquiry level has already jumped."
"Social Distancing And Additional Hygiene Regulations"
Hastings continued, "This allows time for families to make their holiday plans with confidence this summer. It also allows hotels time to prepare for guests and at the same time comply with the social distancing and additional hygiene regulations that will be required.
"There has never been a better time. There will be no queues at visitor attractions, and the hotels that do open will in all likelihood not open all their bedrooms to comply with regulations."
A Season "Unlike Any Other"
Hastings added, "We are aware that this season will be unlike any other. With so few flights coming to Ireland from Great Britain and overseas, there will not be the usual influx of visitors on escorted coaches.
"We will not see cruise liners in Belfast Lough, and we cannot expect the conferences, concerts and sporting events which generate so many room nights in a normal year."
Hastings Hotels has a 50% in Dublin's Merrion Hotel and owns seven hotels in total.
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