Posted on Wednesday 27 August 2014 by Ulster Business

Northern ireland hotels warm to high profile events

A wave of large-scale events helped boost the hotel trade last year with both occupancy and room rates heading higher, according to a new report.

ASM’s Annual Hotel Industry Survey 74.8% of all hotel rooms were occupied in 2014, a 1.6% jump on the previous year with luxury five star hotels witnessing the biggest boost.

The report said Londonderry’s UK City of Culture, the World Police and Fire Games and the G8 Summit all contributed to the improved performance.

Belfast enjoyed its best ever year in terms of occupancy with 78.6% of rooms filled, although during the World Police and Fire Games that figure jumped to 91.8%.

The number of those rooms occupied by so-called “out of state visitors”, those from outside Northern Ireland, climbed to 68.4% from 67% with trade from the Republic showing a strong growth.

The improved demand also helped to drive revenue with the average room being sold for £68.17 a night, up from £65.50.

That, along with a boost to food and beverage sales and the conference and meeting market, pushed total revenue for the Northern Ireland hotel trade up 9.8% while profit climbed 13.3%.

Michael Williamson, Director of Consulting at ASM, said the strem of events last year was a draw for travellers.

“There is no question that Northern Ireland’s programme of major events has driven visitors into hotels, while helping to garner new respect and prestige for Northern Ireland as a whole. Given the challenging economic climate of the past few years, one wonders what might have happened to the industry were it not for that programme of events in 2012 and 2013.”

Bill Wolsey, owner of one of Northern Ireland’s leading luxury hotels, The Merchant, said “our management team find the survey an invaluable benchmarking resource, which allows us to better understand the marketplace”.

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