Top hoteliers have noted how Derry outstripped Belfast in terms of occupancy growth in 2016.
Janice Gault and Ciaran O’Neill, both from Derry, made the observation in their respective roles as Chief Executive and President of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, which represents the hospitality industry across the whole of the North.
They noted Derry’s strong performance after STR, a hotel benchmarking company, reported 2016 had been a sporadic year for many hoteliers.
At a presentation in the Bishop’s Gate Hotel operators heard how occupancy across the North grew by 2.8 per cent and how room rates increased by 7.5 per cent in 2016.
Sarah Duignan, Director of Client Relationships at STR said: “Northern Ireland has seen a reasonable recovery in terms of rate and occupancy since 2012.
“The market has been sporadic at times and it’s important to bear in mind that there haven’t been any major hotel openings for nearly a decade.
“A significant influx of new hotels could shift the balance and result in changes to the market’s performance levels.”
Ms. Gault noted how the first half of 2016 could have been much better.
“Many had predicted much higher occupancy levels. However, 2016 was very much a year of two halves with a sluggish first six months presenting a considerable challenge for the sector,” she said.
“The strong performance in the second half of the year effectively meant 2016 came in only slightly ahead of 2015.
“When looking at the figures in more detail, it was clear that Belfast had a very poor first six months trading.
“The city trailed significantly behind the record 2015 figures until June. This has offset a record second summer with the city trading at over 90 per cent.”
Ms. Gault pointed out how the west was the best in terms of growth last year with a number of locations doing particularly well.
“Also of interest was the fact that regional destinations like Londonderry and Fermanagh fared better, with Londonderry growing occupancy and a similar picture emerging in Fermanagh,” she said.
Mr. O’Neill said: “As an industry, we remain positive in terms of performance and the second half of 2016 was very strong.
“It is important to note that hotels trade over a 365-day period and it is imperative that we develop additional business for off season periods and continue to try and grow rates.
“The latter half of 2016 has certainly raised the bar and we hope that this trend will continue into 2017.”