Economy Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA is pictured with Eddie McKeever, President of Northern Ireland Hotels Federation.

The Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF) was honoured to host Department for the Economy Minister, Deirdre Hargey MLA, at a special member breakfast held on the 16th of May 2024 at the Crowne Plaza Belfast. This event brought together prominent figures from the hotel, accommodation, supplier, tourism, and hospitality sectors.

Eddie McKeever, President of Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, said: “I am delighted to welcome Economy Minister Deirdre Hargey to address our members today, and we appreciate her ongoing interest and support for our sector. As we celebrate the NIHF’s twenty-fifth anniversary in 2024, it’s remarkable to reflect on the hotel sector’s growth, having doubled in size since 1999 and invested over one and a half billion pounds. This industry has been instrumental in transforming local economies, creating a dynamic socio-economic infrastructure, and providing vital employment opportunities in towns across our region.

“We believe there is significant untapped potential with the right support and a favourable business climate. Currently, we have nine projects underway, with more on the horizon. We are particularly interested in the Minister’s four economic pillars and are confident that with support, the hotel, tourism, and wider hospitality sector can play a pivotal role in realising her economic vision. This sector has the capacity to foster good jobs, enhance productivity, and ensure regional balance through continued hotel development across Northern Ireland. Sustainability and respect for the planet are firmly on the hotel agenda, integral to our vision for a successful future.”

Addressing the NIHF’s breakfast seminar, the Economy Minister said hotels are at the social heart of our towns, villages, and communities.


Minister Deirdre Hargey said: “This celebration of the Federation’s 25th anniversary takes place at a time when our hotel industry is going from strength to strength.  Recent statistics have shown that overnight trips made by people from the south to the north have increased by 50% from 2022 to 2023.

“Our task now is to build upon this success.  It is also important that this growth is directed in a way that supports the Economic Vision set out by Minister Murphy.  With over half of the jobs provided by hoteliers located outside of Belfast, the hotel industry is key to promoting regional balance.  This industry is also well positioned to bring people, including people who are out of the labour market, into quality jobs that offer them a long-term career.  My department must also support hotels to meet our climate change obligations.

“In working our way through both the opportunities and the challenges ahead, my Department will work in partnership with the industry to ensure continued success.”

As part of the event, the NIHF launched its annual conference, Hospitality Exchange, which will take place on 15 and 16 October 2024. This two-day gathering will explore the key drivers shaping the sector and celebrate achievements over the past twenty-five years.