Belfast Telegraph

Belfast's hotels top UK league

By David Elliott

A flock of visitors to the city saw business for Belfast's hotels top a league table of 24 cities last year.

Occupancy rates for hotels in the city climbed 13% in 2012 compared to 2011, more than twice that of the next best performing region of Abderdeen, and streets ahead of average UK hotel occupancy which fell by 1.5%.

The PwC Hotels Forecast said the 700,000 visitors to Titanic Belfast, 65% of whom were from outside Northern Ireland, along with a string of other events helped to boost performance.

It also cited the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards and the Irish Open golf along with the opening of the new Causeway Visitor Centre as helping keep Belfast in the headlines as a tourist destination in late 2011 and throughout 2012.

The PwC review of 2,850 hotels in 24 UK cities is based on data from STR Global's database and includes 24 Belfast hotels, accounting for 3,100 rooms.

In 2012 the proportion of hotel sales generated from room revenues increased by almost 18%, while revenues per available room grew 17%, above the UK average and higher than London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

Kevin MacAllister, PwC partner and private sector leader, said the performance by Belfast hotels is wide ranging.

"In most key metrics – like daily rates, the percentage of rooms let and average revenues, Belfast hotels outperformed most of the other cities, including London," he said.

"Even in London, with the advantage of the Olympics, hotel occupancy declined by close to 2% year on year."

And he said the strong performance looks set to continue.

"Indications are that visitor traffic will continue through 2013, with an anticipated increase in conference and convention activity, adding to the off-season demand."

Tightening supply will help.

"There is no substantial pipeline of new rooms to increase competition shrink margins in 2013, while Titanic Belfast, the World Police and Fire Games and a number of new events should keep the city amongst potential visitors' target destinations.

"If the anticipated conference bookings bolster non-peak occupancy and the security situation remains calm, Belfast's hotels could deliver yet another year of steady growth."

Belfast Telegraph