One of Inishowen’s leading hoteliers has claimed the economic tide is - at last - turning. Johnny ‘Bill’ McLaughlin, of the Strand Hotel in Ballyliffin, says he has had his best Easter in years and that his trade in recent times has ‘improved immensely’

Speaking with the Derry Journal yesterday Mr. McLaughlin was in a very upbeat mood.

“It was the best Easter Holiday period we have had in years. I can only speak for myself but I found it outstanding.

“I think the tide is beginning to turn at last and thank God for it. It has been very tough for all of us in recent years.

“Confidence is on the way back. Now people are coming in and booking weddings. They seem to be confident in the future. For a long time young couples were holding back on weddings for fear of job losses and running up debt, debt they might not be able to afford if they lost their jobs. But those fears seem to be subsiding. The feeling seems to be that we have reached the bottom and now we are taking the first steps back up again.

Mr. McLaughlin also pointed out that tourism is on the increase in Inishowen.

He stated: “I was at a meeting this week where local hoteliers and business people discussed how we could move forward. One very positive thing to come out of it was that a simple thing like the waterfalls at Straid in Clonmany are now attracting a lot of visitors, and most of these are not locals.

“It seems that if we can get the right product at the right price we can make a real go of it. Again speaking personally, if it continues like this I would be very optimistic that we will have a very good year.”

Mr McLaughlin is not alone.Terry McEniff of the Mount Errigal Hotel in Letterkenny and a Director of Donegal tourism, said the hotel had also experienced its busiest Easter for years. He said the good weather has played a major part in the influx of visitors to the county.

“We have been getting a lot of people from the North because with the bank holidays they can take two days off and get 11 or 12 days away. We are also getting a lot of people from the from the Cavan and Monaghan area as well.

“There is a mixture of people but we are getting a lot of families. People are asking for directions to the beach every morning and are heading to Rathmullan, Downings and Dunfanaghy.”

Michael Naughton, from the Clanree Hotel in Letterkenny said there has been a very good start to the season.

“Bookings are certainly buoyant, with the hotel being very busy throughout the Easter Holiday period. I feel that the excellent work that was done in 2010, with the Donegal Ad Campaign and the Donegal Live event in Dublin have all helped raise the profile of the County this year.”

He added: “The indications are good so we are all hoping for a good year ahead”