Alliance Councillor Kate Nicholl has said that updating opening hours and licensing legislation could result in a welcome boost for the tourist sector in Belfast.
Councillor Nicholl was speaking after Belfast City Council agreed to consider launching public consultation on the modernisation of opening hours and licensing laws. The consultation would also take views on a private sector proposal to develop an entertainment and casino centre in Belfast.
Councillor Nicholl said: “We all recognise the importance of tourism to our city economy. We know that with the right stimulus and support we can substantially grow the sector and create many more jobs across the city.
“If we are serious about making Belfast an attractive destination for tourists, then we need to bring our opening hours and licensing laws more into line with what many of our visitors enjoy at home and expect when they travel.
“I would call for the Minister for Communities and the Assembly to devolve licensing decisions to councils. Local councils, who are fully aware of local circumstances, are best placed to make decisions about opening hours.
“We are also aware of the interest from private investors to develop an entertainment and casino complex, which has the potential to create several hundred jobs. While we would need to ensure there are protections in place regarding the potential for gambling addictions, this proposal could bring important economic benefits.
“When these proposals are discussed at committee I will be offering my full support.”