Tourism body warns no more big events for Northern Ireland after budget cuts

Tourism NI is warning cuts to its budget will mean it is unlikely Northern Ireland will be able to stage any major events in the next 5 years.

The organisation is facing a 33% reduction to its funding package as a result of the recent budget.

Dozens of small events are also going to have grants axed as a result of the financial pressures.

Speaking to View from Stormont, Chief Executive John McGrillen said: “Its highly unlikely, with the exception of the open, we are going to be able to stage a major event in Northern Ireland between now and 2028.

“Today we have had to write to 40 organisations to say that grants they hoped to get to support small events would not be available.

“We provide a fund to bring conferences here that’s likely to be reduced and that is likely to mean fewer conferences than we would like.

The tourism body spent a significant part of its budget attracting visitors from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland.

Last year visitor numbers increased by 51% as a result and those visitors spent over £200 million.

John McGrillen said “the irony of all this is that 20% of what those visitors spend is VAT income for Treasury.”

“In reality, longer term we are looking at a reduction in the VAT income for government which is greater than what our budget is being reduced by.“

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