Report will focus on economic impact of new hotels influx

Gearing for growth: NIHF chief executive Janice Gault (left) with Sarah Duignan, director of client relationships at STR
Gary McDonald Business Editor

A REPORT is due to be released next month detailing the future prospects for the north's hotels sector in the wake of the influx of new properties opening in the last six months.

The Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF) produced a major study last year assessing the potential economic impact beyond the construction phase.

But with bedroom numbers now at record levels, a new updated document will look at impact of job creation and ask how the sector will fare in the coming months in a market now supporting more than 9,000 hotel bedrooms.

NIHF chief executive Janice Gault said: “Hotel expansion has been a hot topic throughout the year and we were conscious of the effects of such a large influx of product.

"We have been working with benchmarking company STR to produce a performance forecast for the sector. The study will have a fully-fledged analysis of the Belfast market and a high level summary covering Derry and rest of Northern Ireland.

"This in-depth piece of work will track the impact of new product and assess the effect on occupancy and rate. The forecast will be available to buy in 2019 on a quarterly basis.

"Recent figures have reflected the impact of new room stock. It is important that the market has relevant information for planning their pricing and sales strategies going forward.”

Sarah Duignan, director of client relationships at STR, which has a strong presence in Northern Ireland with a large sample size contributing to its benchmarking survey, said: "The dynamics of the market in the region and the influx of hotels led us to look at an in-depth forecast for the Belfast market, as well as some top line analysis for other geographic areas.

"We have worked with the NIHF over the last number of years to build a strong base and feel the time is right to launch a forecast for the industry. A lot of new product creates both opportunities and challenges.

"A measured and well supported forecast can be an invaluable tool for businesses. We produce similar reports for a number of key destinations on a global basis and have no doubt that the new forecast will be of great benefit to the industry in Northern Ireland.”

The first of the regularly future forecasts will be launched at the business breakfast at Hospitality Exchange 2018 on Wednesday October 17.

The conference programme will include the unveiling of an updated hotel expansion report presented by economist Andrew Webb.

The 2018 edition will outline the contribution of recent construction, the economic impact of the sector and highlight some of the challenges ahead. The event will also feature a panel discussion on the findings of the report, issues arising in the market and the opportunities ahead.

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