Marketing campaign boost for Belfast hotel sector

Last year was much vaunted as a potential platform which would boost the tourism industry in Belfast and beyond. Events like the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, the opening of the new visitor centers at Titanic Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway, the hosting of the Irish Open golf tournament and the Clipper event in Derry all provided impetus for the “Our Time, Our Place” marketing campaign.

The yearly Northern Ireland Hotel Industry Survey published recently by ASM Chartered Accountants seems to underline the positive impact the campaign had on the local hotel industry. Based on the ASM survey it was estimated that there was an additional 270,000 hotel bedrooms occupied in 2012, representing an increase of some 15% over 2011. Bedroom occupancy rates across Northern Ireland averaged 73.2% during 2012 compared with 64.7% the previous year. The average cost of a hotel room in 2012 stood at £65.50, only a slight increase from the £62.74 average rate achieved in 2011. This would seem to show that room rate discounting is still being used by hoteliers to attract guests and keep occupancy rates at decent levels. 67 per cent of the rooms that were were occupied were reported to have been booked by visitors from outside Northern Ireland, an increase of some 3% over the previous year.

Michael Williamson, Director of Consulting at ASM, commenting on the results of the report, said that The NI 2012 Our Time Our Place campaign had proven to be a real boost for tourism. He went on to say: “It is clear that in those regions where major events or openings occurred, that there was a significant and welcome boost to visitor numbers and overnight stays. This is no surprise given the programme of events associated with the Titanic Centenary and the huge success of Titanic Belfast in attracting around 800,000 visitors in its first year.”

In other positive news for the Belfast hotel sector the Malone Lodge in south Belfast has just finished a major renovation project adding twenty new jobs to the local hotel industry. The hotel on Belfast’s Eglantine Avenue has 199 bedrooms and now boasts new enhanced meeting facilities, a function room for weddings of up to 240 people, a new restaurant and an underground car park. Director of the Malone Lodge Hotel, Cara Macklin, said at the official launch of the new facilities that: “The opening underpins our commitment to strengthen our contribution to the Belfast hospitality industry and we will continue to play an integral role in attracting business and leisure visitors to the city.”