Hotels situation ‘worrying’

Business leaders say they’re worried that new hotels planned for the city won’t be ready in time for 2013.

Padraig Canavan, president of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, spoke out after a local businessman warned there won’t be enough accommodation for visitors during the City of Culture year.

Eddie Kerr, who was instrumental in securing an international music, arts and dance festival for the city in 2013, said Derry needs to “get its act together.”

Padraig Canavan said he’s reassured that several of the hotel schemes are “on track”, but added: “It is unrealistic to expect the private sector to build new hotels that will only be occupied for a few weekends during 2013 and will then be left underused and, eventually, become a ‘white elephant’ legacy.

“What is required, therefore, are other, additional interventions that meet the needs of those spikes in demand. One option is for a big increase in guest house and bed and breakfast provision across the city. Another is for landowners to be supported in creating new campsites that might be suitable.

“The Chamber also welcomes proposals for a boat, or boats, to be moored on the river as temporary hotel provision. This idea deserves serious consideration.”

Derry City Council says it has been working closely with the Culture Company and other agencies to ensure the city and region can meet the level of demand for accommodation leading up to and including 2013.

Council says it is drawing up a report quantifying available bed spaces within a 30 mile radius (over 7,000) and within a 60 mile radius (over 14,000). This includes hotels, guest houses, self catering, B&B and youth hostels. It will also identify the potential for private sector growth.