Belfast hotels enjoy third highest increase in occupancy levels
Belfast hotels had the third highest annual increase in occupancy levels in the UK last year.
The city saw an increase in uptake of 1.3% in 2016 - second only to Norwich (3.3%) and Cardiff (1.4%) - during a time when the average UK hotel occupancy actually fell by 0.2%.
The findings of the assessment by PwC provide firm evidence that Belfast is a popular place to stay for tourists and business people.
Belfast hotels topped the list of 22 cities examined in terms of increasing the Average Daily Rate (ADR) - the average rental income per paid occupied room - and Revenues per Available Room (RevPAR).
In the 12 months to December 2016, Belfast hotels increased their ADR by 7.7%, making it the top performing city ahead of Birmingham (7.6%), Brighton (7.1%) and significantly ahead of the UK average increase of 1.6%.
Belfast was also the top 2016 performer in the RevPAR measure, with local hotels boosting average RevPAR by 9%, ahead of Birmingham (8.2%) and York (6.2%) - local performance was again well ahead of the UK average of 1.4%.
Occupancy levels at Belfast hotels saw the third highest annual increase of 1.3%.
PwC analysed data provide by STR Global relating to 3,400 UK hotels, accounting for nearly 370,000 rooms. This included 25 large Belfast hotels, covering 3,305 rooms.
The Average Daily Rate for Belfast hotels, historically among the lower UK cities, is moving steadily upwards and, in 2016, had increased to £70.50 - just above the regional average of £69.75.
Looking to the wider tourism market, PwC's European Cities Hotel Forecast says that, while security concerns saw mixed fortunes for some city destinations in 2016, overall it was another record year for European tourism, with 12m more visitors and a total of 2.8bn nights spent in tourist accommodation. An influx of tourists from the US and a booming Asia should drive hotel trading in 2017, with the majority of key city destinations likely to experience continued growth, the forecast says.
Martin Cowie from PWC said: "Belfast is increasingly becoming a 'must-visit' destination and the above average performance increases during 2016 indicate this is having a direct financial benefit.
"It is important that the city continues to reinvent itself and strive to create new attractions and refresh those that are already successful. It is also important to create demand and attractions that draw tourists, visitors and events in the shoulder and off-seasons."