Bishop’s Gate boss upbeat about 2016 outlook for hotels

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The operator of the Bishop’s Gate hotel in Londonderry says the local hotel sector enjoyed a good 2015 with an average occupancy of 74.1 per cent, up 2.4 per cent on 2014 figures, average daily room rates of £63.90, an 8.2 per cent increase on 2014’s rates, and average revenue of £47.36 per room, a 10.9 per cent increase on 2014’s figures.

Ciaran O’Neill, speaking in his capacity as President of Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, says there’s growing confidence within the industry across Northern Ireland.

“It is useful to outline what the sector looks like. There are currently 135 hotels in Northern Ireland, equating to 7,823 bedrooms. Approximately 76 per cent of visitors who use commercial accommodation opt for hotels.

“For the last five years hotel numbers have stayed at the same level, with the last real growth taking place between 2005 and 2007.

“Occupancy figures for accommodation in Northern Ireland indicate that Belfast is performing well. Indeed, in some ways it is bolstering the figures for Northern Ireland as a whole, as there has been a small drop in occupancy figures in rural areas.

“Northern Ireland has been slow to come out of recession but globally trading has improved. Recently, with improved confidence, finance is also more readily available and property development is deemed viable.

“This is evident in the fact that there are a significant number of new hotel projects in the planning and development phases, with over 20 in Belfast and three in Derry-Londonderry alone.”

“Confidence in the sector is also supported by the fact that we’re seeing the introduction of new brands to Northern Ireland. We had the recent announcement that a Hampton by Hilton is set to be developed in the Hope Street area of Belfast and we know that Marriott, Premier Inn and others international players have Northern Ireland in their sights.”

Sarah Duignan, Director of Account Management, STR Global said: “Northern Ireland as a region has recovered well post downturn but this is especially true of Belfast. Year end 2005 Belfast achieved an occupancy of 75 per cent, an Average Daily Rate (ADR) of £64.00 and a Revenue Per Available Room (revPAR) of £48.03.

“Roll on 10 years to present day and Belfast has seen a significant increase in room count along with a Global Economic crisis but has managed to come out on top with Year end 2015 occupancy of 78.5 per cent, ADR of £65.11 and revPAR at £51.10.

“Londonderry has also not faired too badly, occupancy is almost back to 2008 levels at 62.8 per cent by year end 2015 and ADR just shy of £55 followed by revPAR at £34.52 with only 60pence lacking to achieve the 2008 peak. Whilst Belfast and Londonderry are the two primary markets reported on by STR Global in Northern Ireland, we are looking forward to also being able to share the successes of the “South West Ulster” hotel market when we launch this as our third key Northern Ireland market in February 2016.”