McCallister Concerned That Tourists' Views Not Included In Important Licensing Issue

John McCallister MLA, independent Unionist for South Down, has voiced his disappointment that neither the Department for Enterprise Trade and Investment or Tourism NI has sought the views of tourists as to the impact Easter Licensing laws have on their holiday experience in Northern Ireland.

[caption id="attachment_52191" align="alignleft" width="300"]South Down Independent Unionist John McCallister South Down Independent Unionist John McCallister[/caption]

There has been much consternation among local licensed premises in Northern Ireland and across County Down over restrictions on Good Friday, and there have been calls from the licensed trade to modernise the legislation.

Mr McCallister said: “The service industry and hoteliers across South Down are trying extremely hard to attract as many tourists to the region.

“The current Easter licensing laws seriously curtail the product the service industry can offer over this busy period and I am disappointed that nobody has thought it important to seek the views of those tourists who are in Northern Ireland over the period.

“My fear is that many of them will go away with the impression that South Down and Northern Ireland is not open for business and not able to meet their needs. Those who work in the tourist and service industries know that positive customer experiences and word of mouth are vital to getting repeat visits and new visitors to a region.

“For me this is not about liberalising our licensing laws to facilitate alcohol misuse over the Easter period, what it is about is ensuring hotels and restaurants can provide a high standard service for their customers and tourists over what should be one of the busiest periods of the year.

“At present I fear the message people take away from South Down and Northern Ireland is that it is not open for business,” added John McCallister.