The Belfast International Youth Hostel has accepted an offer of £313K from Invest Northern Ireland to help fund the new extension of its premises on the Donegal Road, Belfast.
Part of Hostelling International Northern Ireland (HINI) the extension will increase the hostels present capacity from 124 beds to 162.
Kevin McCann, Director for Transport, Construction and Tourism with Invest NI commented:
“It is widely recognised that tourism is a sector with significant potential to create real and sustainable wealth. This investment will allow one of Northern Ireland’s most successful hostels to attract even more visitors into the region and further enhance the contribution that tourism makes to the local economy.”
The Association currently has six hostels across Northern Ireland including Belfast, Whitepark Bay, Bushmills, Enniskillen, Newcastle and Armagh. Each hostel attracts a wide-range of International visitors; in 2003 almost 76% of the overnight stays recorded were from guests living outside of Northern Ireland.
The expectations of the average hosteller have also evolved in recent years and many of today’s hostels have had to respond accordingly by both improving their standards and the range of facilities they offer.
Ken Canavan, General Secretary of HINI commented:
“A large percentage (93%) of our guests are seasoned international travellers who have stayed in youth hostels across the world. They have high expectations and are increasingly looking for smaller rooms, ensuite facilities, integrated transport arrangements and good IT access. This new investment will allow us to further enhance our services, compete more effectively and attract even more visitors into Northern Ireland.”
The new extension is currently under construction on the corner of Donegal Road and Sandy Row, and comes at a time when new direct access routes will give further cost effective opportunities for the back packer market.
The development, which will cater specifically to the needs of the independent budget traveller, will allow HINI to keep its flagship property at the forefront of the international youth hostel marketplace.