Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

MTV tourism boom is music to Northern Ireland hospitality sector ears

Hotel rooms in Belfast could be more in demand next year than in many other European tourist hot-spots, a new report has claimed.

But despite the positive forecast, Northern Ireland's hospitality trade may still not reap much of a financial reward.

Business advisory body PricewaterhouseCooper's report 'Best placed to grow' said that Belfast hotels could experience the second highest level of year-on-year occupancy growth among 17 cities surveyed.

The city is placed just behind Stockholm and ahead of London, Paris, Amsterdam and Geneva.

Starting with the MTV Awards in Belfast next month, the city and Northern Ireland as a whole is set to enter a golden age of tourism potential, with the Titanic centenary and the opening of the £97m Titanic signature building, the opening of the new visitor centre at the Giant's Causeway and Londonderry being awarded the City of Culture status for 2013.

Stephen Curragh, partner and tourism specialist with PwC Belfast, said that while Stockholm, Belfast and Dublin will see year-on-year occupancy increasing substantially, a recovery in occupancy does not equate to healthy profits.

"Converting tourist and business occupancy into revenue per available room will be the challenge for local hoteliers in 2012 and 2013 and owners will have to make the most of the opportunities afforded by local and UK events to maximise future revenues," he said.

"The MTV Music Awards have historically delivered around £10m in revenues to host cities and between the Titanic centenary and the London Olympics, Belfast should enjoy at least the level of accommodation growth the report forecasts.

"However Belfast's hotel revenues and projected revenue growth are at the bottom of the European capital city league and well behind Dublin and Edinburgh.

"Closing that gap will be the challenge for Belfast in 2012."

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