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Positive signs for Belfast hotels

The latest review of the hotel industry in Northern Ireland which was produced by ASM Chartered Accountants shows that hotels in Belfast have been experiencing a lift in business and may now be facing somewhat more favourable trading conditions than in the worst days of the recent economic crisis. It is true that hotel occupancy rates have gone down as has profitability, however, the average price of a room has risen and it is expected that events like the Titanic centenary will provide an even greater boost in the near future. For example, the International Seed Federation World Seed Congress which was held in Belfast recently saw every hotel room in the city booked out for the first time in over two years.

The ASM report indicated that hotel bedroom occupancy averaged 63.4 percent in 2010 which was a small decline on 2009 when average occupancy was recorded at 64.1 percent. The average rate achieved per room was £64.83 representing a slight increase on the £63.42 recorded the year before. Total sales per bedroom averaged £37,894 for 2010, which is also slightly ahead of the 2009 figure.

Michael Williamson, director of hotel, tourism and leisure consulting at ASM, said that the affects of the downturn may finally be levelling out.”The 2010 results, while far from groundbreaking, do suggest that the industry may be at, or very close to, its ultimate low point,” he said. “By and large, rural hotels performed better than urban hotels, although there are signs of recovery in the Belfast market. Demand from independent business travellers increased during 2010, but the conference and meeting market remains weak for all operators. Thankfully, the holiday at home market remained strong and this helped address shortfalls in demand from certain out of state markets.”