Belfast hotels among UK’s busiest as visitors flood in from Republic
by Margaret Canning
Belfast hotels, including the Europa, have reported 22% growth in second quarter
Hotels in Belfast have reported one the strongest performances of 12 UK cities during the second quarter of the year, according to a report. Visitors from the Republic – drawn by the pound’s 14% fall in value since the EU referendum – have helped the increase.
The city was number two out of 12 cities after it recorded 22% growth in revenue per available room (revPAR), its fourth quarter in a row of double-digit growth, according consultancies Alix Partners and AM:PM.
It was outpaced only by Edinburgh, where growth in revPAR – a measure obtained by multiplying a hotel’s average daily room rate by its occupancy rate – was 23%.
The Quarter 2 2017 Hotel Bulletin said: “Belfast’s leisure offering has steadily developed in recent years as it added new attractions including a renovated Titanic Quarter.
“Belfast is also uniquely positioned to take advantage of the weak pound as it attracts visitors from the Republic.
“Northern Ireland reported a 36% increase in visitors from the Republic of Ireland last year following the drop in value of the pound halfway through the year.”
Cardiff took third place in the four capital cities behind Belfast and Edinburgh with revPAR of 17%, while London’s growth was 8%.
Tourism NI has said that total trips from the Republic during 2016 were up 36%, overnight stays were up 18% and spend was up 15%.
It said visitors from the Republic were spending two nights on average with the overall trend of growth in numbers continuing this year.
Overall, there were 992,000 hotel rooms sold during the first half of 2017.
Tourism NI said this was an 8% increase.
At 70%, average room occupancy was up 5% over the first six months of the year.
June was the highest on record with 84% room occupancy.
Tourism NI chief executive John McGrillen welcomed the increase in revPAR.
He said it “is indicative of the growth of the tourism industry in Belfast and across Northern Ireland on the back of substantial investment from the public and private sectors in recent years.
“Hotel room sales for the first six months of 2017 are up 8% on 2016 which was a record year for visitor numbers driving up occupancy levels and revPAR.
“The city is currently operating at almost full occupancy and the new hotels currently under construction will bring much needed additional capacity to meet the growing demand for accommodation in Belfast.”
The hotel bulletin also analysed the hotel markets in London and Manchester following the bombing of the Manchester Arena in May, as well as terror attacks on the capital in March and June.
In Manchester, 23 people were killed, while 12 were killed in the London attacks.
It said: “Although the medium and long-term impacts of the attacks in London and Manchester remain to be seen, demand metrics for May and June 2017 indicate that the impact has been less significant than expected.
“In the first week after the London Bridge attack, flight bookings from overseas travellers were down 12% compared to the previous year.
“The following week, the deficit had dropped to just 5%.”
The bulletin said in the week after the Manchester bombing, flight bookings were down 4%.