Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Our Time: Our Place boost to hotels

Year-long marketing campaign sparks 15% increase in visitors

The Merchant Hotel, Belfast
The Merchant Hotel, Belfast
The Fitzwilliam Hotel, Belfast
The Fitzwilliam Hotel, Belfast
Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle
Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle

The 2012 marketing campaign aimed at promoting Northern Ireland as a holiday destination prompted a big increase in visitor numbers to hotels here, according new data just released.

The Northern Ireland Hotel Industry Survey published by ASM Chartered Accountants showed that 270,000 bedrooms were occupied in hotels here in 2012, a 15% increase over 2011.

That, according to ASM, has been helped by the NI 2012 Our Time: Our Place marketing campaign.

"It is clear that in those regions where major events or openings occurred, that there was a significant and welcome boost to visitor numbers and overnight stays," said Michael Williamson, director of Consulting at ASM.

"This is no surprise given the programme of events associated with the Titanic Centenary and the huge success of Titanic Belfast in attracting around 800,000 visitors in its first year."

For the year as a whole, the average bedroom occupancy rate, the percentage of rooms occupied, stood at 73.2%, up from 64.7% in 2011 and because of the boost to demand, the room costs increased slightly.

The average cost of a hotel room in 2012 stood at £65.50, excluding value added tax, up from £62.74 in 2011, a relatively small increase which shows "room rate discounting" is still being implemented by hoteliers.

And of those rooms which were occupied, 67% were bought by visitors from outside Northern Ireland, an improvement on the 63.9% recorded in 2011.

"The NI 2012 campaign managed to reverse the recent trend of falling numbers of 'out-of-state' visitors," the survey said.

While the strong performance has given a boost to the sector here, some areas saw a better improvement than others with hotels located in rural areas improving but not by as much as those in the likes of Belfast and Londonderry.

When it comes to the performance of the sector in financial terms, revenue per available room climbed to £47.95 from £40.62 per night while gross operating profit per room per year climbed over £1,000 to £9,659.

Income from the sale of bedrooms for hotels increased by 18.4% on the year while total revenues, including from bars and restaurants, rose by just 6.3%.

"This reflects generally weak trading in food and beverage operations and in the conferences and meetings markets," the report said.

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