Belfast's hotels lead the way in UK, says PwC
Belfast hotels are outperforming those in the rest of the UK, according to the latest analysis from PwC.
The business advisers' research into the hotel sector showed that during the first six months of 2015, the average occupancy in Belfast's hotels rose from 75% to 79.3%.
That was well ahead of both the overall UK national half-year performance at 76.4% and the UK regional (outside London) occupancy of 75%.
The news also comes just weeks after the Belfast Telegraph revealed that around 20 new hotels were planned in the city.
The new hotels include Titanic Hotel at the former Harland and Wolff Drawing Offices, City Quays Hotel, Grand Central Hotel, Bedford Street and Blackstaff Square Hotel. Together they will add an extra 2,500 rooms to the existing 4,000.
But PwC hospitality and leisure partner Martin O'Hanlon said the Northern Ireland market was far from saturation - even with the large numbers of hotels in the pipeline.
Mr O'Hanlon said growth was uneven around the UK regions.
"Growth isn't being experienced evenly by all market segments across the UK," he said.
"The recent variable performance in London in the first half of 2015 has been in contrast with improved performance in the regions where cities like Belfast, Birmingham and Nottingham are performing particularly well."
Other areas covered by the forecast also showed the strength of the accommodation sector. In the first half of 2015, Belfast enjoyed the second highest occupancy increase.
An increase of 5.6% meant the city lagged just 0.3% behind the UK's top increase of 5.9%, seen in Birmingham. But it beat several larger cities, including London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Belfast hotels also performed well when measured by Revenues Per Available Room or RevPAR, calculated by dividing the total room revenue by the number of available rooms. RevPAR showed Belfast hotels faced a 15.8% increase in the first six months of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014, which in turn was also up 15% on the first half of 2013.
The increase in RevPAR across Belfast hotels in the first half of 2015 was more than three times the UK average, posting the greatest increase amongst the 22 UK cities and two airport hotel groups (Heathrow and Gatwick).
London hotels enjoyed a record 2014, but so far haven't seen the same strong performance in 2015, according to the PwC analysis.
PwC examined the performance of more than 8,500 hotels in 22 cities across the UK, as well as hotels at Heathrow and Gatwick airports. Their research included 32 Belfast hotels, accounting for almost 3,500 rooms.
The PwC report says UK regions have experienced a very good half year to July, with most cities continuing to see strong RevPAR growth. Growth has come from a mix of increased occupancy and an increase in the annual daily rate.
Looking to the rest of the year, PwC expects average UK occupancy growth of 1.6% in 2015, taking occupancy to 76% and average daily rate to grow by a further 4.6%.
For the first half of the year, Belfast hotels significantly exceeded these forecasts.
Mr O'Hanlon added he expects Belfast to remain among the top performing cities.
"Growth is steady, the gap is closing and we see no reason why that should not continue," he said.