Belfast Telegraph

Summer of fun boosted demand for hotel rooms

By David Elliott

Northern Ireland's busy summer of events and festivals has given the hotel sector an upgrade, according to a new survey.

Accountancy firm ASM's Hotel Performance Indicator (HPI) showed just over 80% of rooms in the average hotel here were full in the three months to the end of September, a figure which is 7% up on the same period last year.

The boost to demand has also helped to lift the price of a room by over 5% to £66 a night.

And the good news in the sector hasn't just been enjoyed by hotels in Belfast, a phenomenon which occured in the second quarter of the year.

Occupancy levels in Londonderry climbed over 6% during the period and now stand at just under 82% while revenue in the city was up £2 at £52 a night.

But the performance of hotels in Belfast continues to lead the way with occupancy there up 9% at 84% and room rate up at £68 a night.

"Thankfully, quarter three has been another bumper period but this has been more far reaching and is probably testament to the positive impact that festivals and events can have in attracting visitors to a destination," director at ASM said.

He said that the results prove that the 'NI 2012, Our Time, Our Place' campaign has got off to an encouraging start but warned that there's still work to be done.

"Now that some real and tangible momentum has been injected into the promotion of Northern Ireland as a destination, the challenge will be maintaining this momentum in the follow on years," he said.

"The past six months have proved that tourism does have a very valuable role to play in stimulating and growing the local economy.

"It is up to all of us to ensure that this opportunity does not pass us by."

The news will be welcomed by those in the hotel industry which have had a difficult time since the start of the global economic slowdown in 2007.

Less than two years ago hotels in Northern Ireland, and particularly Belfast, were struggling to fill rooms as the recession took hold.