Belfast Telegraph

Belfast on course to reach 10,000 rooms by end of year, predicts hotels boss

By Ryan McAleer

Belfast passed the threshold of 9,000 hotel rooms last month, according to the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF).

The city is currently undergoing a major expansion in its hospitality sector.

NIHF chief executive Janice Gault said Belfast remains on course to reach 10,000 rooms by the end of the year.

Speaking yesterday, she confirmed that the 9,000-room mark had been achieved in June as a result of the opening of Northern Ireland's largest hotel, the Grand Central, which added 300 rooms.

The first ever Hampton by Hilton hotel in Ireland added a further 178 rooms during June, while the 55-room Flint Hotel also opened on Howard Street last month.

The city also saw a new 188-bed AC Marriott open at the harbour in April, while the 237-bed Maldron opened in the city centre in May.

"It has been an interesting year to date with an action-packed first six months," Ms Gault said.

"There are now 142 hotels in Northern Ireland and over 1,000 rooms have come on stream since January.

"By this time next year we anticipate expansion will tail off. However, visitor numbers have increased."

She said performance figures indicate that occupancy rates remain on par with 2017 at 74.4% and demand for rooms up at 5.9%.

"The summer season is going well with anecdotal evidence suggesting an increase in both European and North American visitor numbers," she added.

"Hotel properties in Northern Ireland have also seen considerable investment over the last number of years and this is being reflected in a better room rate in all areas.

"A number of trends are starting to emerge but it will be several months before the market adjusts to new supply levels.

"Room rate has held up well and although occupancy levels have had a couple of stutters, in general the industry has coped well with an unprecedented situation."

Belfast Telegraph

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