Northern Ireland’s tourism businesses and airports will be exempt from business rates this year, its Executive has confirmed.
Tourism, hospitality and leisure are included among a £213 million rates support package that also embraces Belfast City, Belfast International and City of Derry airports. The airports’ package is worth £2.2 million.
The scheme, designed to support sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, will see those included pay no rates for the full financial year until 31 March 2021.
Northern Ireland’s finance minister Conor Murphy said: “Further support is targeted at the sectors which will be in greatest need in the months ahead.”
The announcement prompted calls for similar exemptions for mainland airports.
Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee said: “Before the pandemic hit the UK, passenger numbers were already dropping and we expect the aviation recovery to be slow, particularly following the UK Government’s announcement that arriving passengers will have to quarantine for 14 days.
“With both the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive now providing business rate relief for airports, it is time the Welsh and UK Governments recognise the role airports play in their local economy, supporting and enabling thousands of jobs across business sectors, and the importance of protecting this for the future.”