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Jump in visitor numbers boosts Belfast hotel optimism

Nov 5

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05 November 2012  RssIcon

Belfast hotels are enjoying a bumper 2012, thanks to a year of international promotion, according to the latest hotel forecast from advisors, PwC.
PwC’s UK hotels forecast 2013; After the Party, says Belfast’s increased hotel occupancy for the first eight months of 2012 is in stark contrast to London where occupancy levels are down 2% on 2011, with 2013 forecast to deliver London the lowest level of occupancy since 2005.

The PwC report, published Monday 5 November says the best performing cities thus far in 2012 have been Belfast and Aberdeen, benefitting in turn from Northern Ireland’s Our Time, our Place campaign and the relative buoyancy of the offshore oil and gas exploration sector.

The report says that the Titanic Belfast Festival and the opening of the iconic £97m visitor attraction delivered the biggest jump in March hotel occupancy in nearly a decade and a 12% year-on-year hike in revenues for Belfast hoteliers.

April saw year-on-year occupancy in leading Belfast hotels increase by 25%; the average daily rate (ADR) increase by 15% over April 2011, with overall revenues and revenues per available room (RevPAR) 45% ahead of April 2011.

Commenting on the report, PwC Belfast partner and hospitality expert Stephen Curragh said:
“Year-on-year occupancy, for the eight months to the end of September 2012 in Belfast Metro’s 38 leading hotels is up by 15%. RevPAR is up 20% and overall revenue has jumped by more than a fifth on the same period in 2011.
“While last year’s MTV Music Awards accounted for around 8,000 room nights, with the event delivering an estimated £22 million to the Belfast economy, it was March and the launch of the Titanic Belfast Festival that really saw a substantial jump in Belfast hotel occupancy and revenues.
“A test of Belfast’s performance was targeting 450,000 visitors to Titanic Belfast for all of 2012 and achieving the 500,000th visitor to by 19th September – just six months after opening.
“Overall, 2012 has been a successful year for Belfast hotels thus far, but it is off a very low base and will require sustained visitor numbers to bring Belfast back to pre-downturn levels of profitability.
“Next Augusts’ World Police and Fire Games will attract around 25,000 competitors and visitors and will deliver further strong and hopefully positive images of the region.
“Nevertheless, sustained campaigning and high profile events will be essential to boost the hospitality industry, not merely in Belfast, but across Northern Ireland; and as the convention and conference industry shows cautious optimism, that sector too, will demand aggressive marketing.
“2012 may have been our time, but keeping visitors coming to our place, will prove very challenging in an extraordinarily competitive market.”

The report says that the UK meetings and events sector has been badly impacted by the recession and previous experience suggests that this is often the last demand segment to recover, however, there has been some recent confidence that the downturn in this sector has bottomed out.
There is now some emerging optimism in the corporate sector rather than the not for profit sector, which may be anticipating some fall-out from the public sector cut-backs.
Leisure and business demand remains fragile, price sensitive and hard-pressed and PwC anticipates a challenging year ahead as available capacity, changes to company travel policy, and communications technology all impact on the sector.

In summary however, PwC says that renewed optimism for a modest revival in conference and event demand, and a continued resurgence in business travel should, ensure the slow UK hotel recovery continues.

The report is available to download here



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