City hotels buck trend with 18% profit gain

LONDONDERRY'S hoteliers bucked recessionary trends last year by putting on 18 per cent in profits.

Expert Michael Williamson of ASM Howarth consultancy firm said the city's relative independence of the business market helped explain the gain.

The increase coincided with the collapse of Belfast's hospitality industry profits by 45 per cent in 2009.

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

He said Northern Ireland had suffered as the conference market contracted with the economic downturn.

But as the suits deserted Belfast tourists continued to come to the North West for their holidays.

"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," explained Mr Williamson.

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The gloomy picture for Northern Ireland is also reflected in a quarterly economic review by business adviser PricewaterhouseCoopers.

PWC believe Northern Ireland's economic recovery is lagging behind the rest of the UK and the gap is widening.

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