Derry’s newest hotel manager, Olga Henry, fears a poorly managed Brexit could affect the local hospitality sector by encouraging labour flight while simultaneously putting off cross-border visitors.
Ms. Henry, who was this month appointed as the new general manager of Da Vinci’s Hotel and has exciting plans for the complex (see page 21), said she is concerned a sizeable chunk of the local hospitality sector’s non-national labour force will flock south if the North’s depature from the European Union is not carefully managed.
She was speaking from a particularly clear vantage point from her office at the eastern terminus of the Buncrana Road from which you can drive (five minutes) and walk (45 minutes) to the border in question.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ this week, she acknowledged:
“To be honest, I would be fearful. If you look at it the border is just down the road and we have a lot of European people in our industry who are already, some of them, leaving Northern Ireland, and the United Kingom even, in order to go down south.”
The County Derry woman pointed out that labour supply obviously was not the only aspect of Brexit that was on the minds of local hoteliers, publicans and restaurateurs.
She said any unnecessary obstructions to the free flow of people at the Derry/Donegal border would be likely to have a dampening effect on trade.
“There are thousands of cars that go through, a massive flow of traffic from Derry over the border openly every day.
“That would certainly affect business. We are fearful,” she said.
Notwithstanding that she shares an anxiety felt by many in the local business community, Ms. Henry, said she was optimistic for the future of the sector, which, she said, is a growth industry in Derry and will be for come time.
“But there’s nothing that can’t be overcome. We’ll work with it but hopefully it works to our advantage rather than our disadvantage,” she declared.