Belfast hotels among best performing in UK, study reveals
Belfast hotels are among the best performing in the UK, with tourists flocking to the city following the Brexit vote, a new study has revealed.
An assessment by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows Belfast is in the UK's top three major cities for occupancy and financial performance.
The study shows the average cost of hotel rooms in the city - historically among the lowest of the UK - is moving steadily upwards, thanks to demand from tourists and visitors.
In the seven months to July 2016, the average daily cost for a room in Belfast had increased to £70.50, ninth among the 22 cities reviewed. But in the seven months to July 2017, this had risen to an average of £76.70, the fifth highest of the 22 cities, including London.
Belfast hotels' 2017 occupancy levels also saw the highest annual increase of 5.5% in the seven months to July, ahead of Cardiff (4.4%), Liverpool (3.7%) and London (2.6%).
This was more than three times greater than the average UK hotel occupancy, which grew by only 1.4% in the same period.
PwC analysed data relating to 22 cities, as well as Heathrow and Gatwick airport hotels.
That amounted to 3,569 UK hotels, accounting for nearly 378,800 rooms.
This included 24 large Belfast hotels, covering 3,200 rooms.
Martin Cowie, PwC Northern Ireland partner, said the weakness of the pound following Brexit had led to record numbers of tourists visiting UK regional cities so far this year. He said: "Next year, hotels are facing a number of challenges which could restrain growth.
The level of sterling is attracting leisure tourists, but it is also creating a harsher environment for hoteliers as they have to contend with rising costs and squeezed margins, with the weak pound pushing up the cost of imported goods."
The report also warned a mixture of decelerating economic growth, a potential slowdown of inbound tourism and a large increase in new hotel rooms could slow growth next year.
A number of developments could more than double the current number of rooms in the city, currently standing at 3,600. While not all 27 potential developments identified may ultimately be built, around 1,100 rooms are likely to come from five already well advanced.
These include the Marriott AC at City Quays, the 304-room Grand Central in Bedford Street, Hampton in Hope Street, the 237-room Maldron in Brunswick Street, and the 119-room Titanic Hotel.