Northern Ireland hotel occupancy rates reach record high

Pictured at the new Bullitt Hotel, Ann Street Belfast is Clare Stokes, corporate manager, First Trust Bank, which helped to fund the £7m build, and James Sinton, finance director, Beannchor Group

HOTEL occupancy rates in Northern Ireland reached a record high in August.

Data from the Department for the Economy showed 88 per cent of available rooms were booked.

And when guesthouses, B&Bs and other guest accommodation was taken into account, the number of beds sold in the year to August had increased 7 per cent - or by 186,300 - compared to the same period in 2015.

The figures have been released as a raft of new hotels are either in planning or preparing to open.

They include the Beannchor Group's Bullitt hotel which is set to open in Belfast city centre next week.

Tourism NI chief executive John McGrillen said the August results "confirm the upward trend that we started to see from June this year and our latest research suggests a positive outlook for the second half of 2016 overall, with hotels, attractions and activity providers emerging as the most positive sectors".

He added: “The increase in air capacity into Northern Ireland compared with summer 2015, and the announcement by Ryanair of a significant number of new European routes into Belfast International Airport for winter 2016/17, bodes well for the Great Britain and European markets.

"In the short term a weaker pound is offering better value for money for and may also entice additional visitors, particularly from the Republic of Ireland market.

“Tourism NI continues to work hard to develop and sell Northern Ireland as a great place to visit and stay. These latest figures are a welcome boost for the tourism industry and will encourage us all to do what we can to grow tourism here.”

The data will provide relief for hoteliers after a report by business advisers PwC found occupancy levels in Belfast were in decline.

Its research, which looked at the first six months of the year, found rates to have fallen to 74 per cent 79 per cent over the same period in 2015.

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