If it didn’t need said already this years 12th July celebrations were a much greater success in Derry than they were in Belfast.
A new report released today by Belfast City Centre Management highlights how the Orange Order still have some work to do in making ‘Orangefest’ an attractive event.
Let’s take a look at facts
60% of businesses in the city centre opened on 12th July. This is a huge improvement on just a few years ago.
HOWEVER- Just 7% of these businesses were happy with the number of people they got through their doors. In contrast 80% were unhappy with a further 13% undecided.
The figures get worse as the report reveals this
‘One well known high street brand stated that they had a total of seven customers over the course of the entire day. This was not uncommon, with other traders reporting numbers as low as 5 customers.’
In addition to this, 50% of businesses reported an unfriendly family atmosphere and several cited rising tensions as being a turnoff for some consumers. In fairness, the other 50% did report the opposite.
Going into the future some statistics don’t give much optimisim as 65% of the businesses that did open have said they are considering not doing so next year.
It wasn’t all bad news. The Good Food Market and the Festival of Fools were seen as an overwhelmingly positive event.
So my question is how do we turn this event from being something that is regarded as divisive into something that Belfast can actually recieve some economic benefit from?
Answers on a post card please.
Full report is available here http://www.belfastcentre.com/publications/event-reports/
Update-From today’s Irish News-another good reason to take the contention out of 12th July as it cost £100k an hour to police.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs