Accommodation providers in Larne have called on the local authority to take urgent action to help support their struggling businesses.
As reported in the Times recently, guest house owners in the town have been left fearing for their futures due to plummeting visitor numbers over recent months – with custom shrinking by as much as 50 per cent.
It has been suggested that the scrapping of the P&O Larne-Troon ferry route is one of the major causes behind the decline. This claim has been rejected by the company however, who stated that passenger numbers using the Port of Larne are actually on the rise.
Whatever the reason for the fall in bookings, some accommodation providers have warned that their businesses could go to the wall if the downturn continues.
In a bid to reverse the trend, Derrin Guest House owner Ivy Chalmers has appealed to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council for help.
She said: “I feel the council could and should be doing more to help struggling accommodation providers.
“For example, the Gobbins website only gives directions to the attraction from Belfast, so any prospective visitor is likely to seek accommodation in the city. The Gobbins was supposed to be a Larne initiative, but local businesses aren’t the ones who currently benefit the most.
“We would also like to see signage on the A8 directing people who come off the ferry back into the town to stay.”
A council spokesman said it was developing a new integrated economic development strategy and complementary tourism strategy, in which “supporting business and job creation is paramount”.
He added: “Council officers have met twice with B&B owners and a further meeting is planned for the end of June.
“Officers have also held meetings with Port of Larne and Roads Service to examine options which may assist these businesses. One suggestion is to make changes to directions and improve linkages on the Gobbins website. Directions from Larne will be considered.”