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Sunday 25 February 2018

Loyalist riots hitting Belfast hotels in the pocket

Deborah McAleese

A LEADING Northern Ireland businessman has told how loyalist riots have led to a group of American tourists cancelling their stay at his luxury hotel in Belfast over Christmas

The group had booked out an entire floor of suites at the Merchant Hotel for four nights.

However, after hearing about the riots they contacted the hotel to cancel their stay.

It is believed the booking could have been worth tens of thousands of pounds.

"They have now taken all their business to Dublin because of the violence," said Bill Wolsey.

"And to rub salt into the wound they asked us to book them into a hotel of similar standard in Dublin. We are losing business because of this," he added.

Mr Wolsey, who also runs Ireland's largest group of licensed premises, said that trade at the Merchant Hotel, which had been "very good" prior to the protests, dropped by 15pc over the past week through cancellations.

"This is about people not feeling safe coming to Belfast. This is going out worldwide. It is doing Northern Ireland no good at all," he said.

"I do not know who to blame or condemn. All I know is we are losing business.

"The politicians have got together lately and condemned the violence which is the right thing to do.

"But in earlier days there was dreadful posturing by leaders of some particular parties trying to gain political capital out of this. That does none of us any good," Mr Wolsey added.

Irish Independent

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