NI hotels bounced back in August, but revenues still down 63% for 2020

The Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle. The NIHF said resorts in the Mournes area performed strongly during August.
Ryan McAleer

THE occupancy rate of the north’s hotels recovered significantly during August, but overall revenue is still down 63 per cent on last year, an industry body has said.

The Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF) said occupancy rates went from around a quarter (24.8 per cent) during July to more than half (56.9 per cent) in August, with visitors from across the border contributing to the recovery.

Chief executive Janice Gault said Co Fermanagh, the north coast and the Mournes performed strongly, with ‘staycation’ style holidays bolstering rural tourism.

Hotels in the north were given the go-ahead to reopen on July 3, with 85 per cent now trading.

“An influx of visitors from the south of Ireland has been a great boost to tourism and hotels have certainly benefited,” said Ms Gault.

"Bookings increased three-fold in August 2020 compared to the same month last year.

"September has shown a similar pattern with almost double the number of bookings seen in 2019.

"Hotels are making the best of the season and are continuing to avail of furlough and other supports to improve their chances of survival,” she added.

But the Hotels Federation said the lockdown had left a significant gap in revenues.

The Grand Central Hotel in Belfast. Hotels in the north were permitted to reopen on July 3. Picture by Hugh Russell.

Room occupancy for the year to date stands at 37 per cent, less than half the 72.6 per cent recorded in the same period last year. It has left overall revenues down by almost two-thirds (63 per cent).

"Without a doubt, there was a certain amount of trepidation about opening with concerns about safe trading, the viability of the market and a question mark over sustainability,” said the hotels representative.

"However, as the summer has progressed, things have settled down with more hotel rooms coming on stream and 'staycations' increasing.

"Domestic trade has been strong with rural destinations such as Fermanagh, the North Coast and the Mournes proving very popular.

"This trend extends beyond hotels with other accommodation providers, in particular self-catering, reporting a very good August."

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