Hotel bookings increase in August

[24 September] Demand for hotel rooms in NI increased, with occupancy rates increasing from just under one quarter, to more than half (56.9%) from July to August, according to the NI Hotels Federation (NIHF). With international tourism limited, many of the bookings have been attributed to staycations in NI or visitors from across the border.

Co Fermanagh, the north coast and the Mournes were key hotspots of activity, attracting guests from across the island. According to NIHF Chief Executive Janice Gault, bookings increased three-fold in August 2020 compared to the same month last year. September shows a similar pattern, with almost double the number of bookings seen in 2019. Net Affinity, a specialist marketing agency working to drive hotel bookings online, reflects this trend. Throughout March to 21st June, bookings for 2020 were considerably lower than last year, however recent months has seen demand grow to exceed 2019.

In addition to hotels, other accommodation providers, particularly self-catering, reported a very strong August performance. Unfortunately, due to several months of closures, the bounce back hasn’t filled the gap left in revenue across the industry. Despite this, we’re seeing continued investment and innovation in the sector.

This month, Beannchor opened its newest venture, the Haslem hotel in Lisburn. Bringing 50 new jobs to the city, the £4m investment provides 45 bedrooms, an 80-seat open plan lobby, a restaurant, residents gym and conference room. With a central location in Lisburn Square, it’s hoped that the new venue offers locals somewhere new to socialise, as well as catering for tourists and business travellers.

Kerry Rooney, Haslem team member; James Sinton, group finance director, Beannchor; Phil Pettitt, Haslem team member; Conall Wolsey, director, Beannchor, and Josh Fraser, Haslem team member, at the group’s new £4 million hotel in Lisburn

Domestic tourists enticed by OOH

The strong domestic tourism performance is testament to the promotion of the hidden gems across Northern Ireland, our tourist hotspots that can sometimes be unappreciated because they’re on our doorsteps. Summer 2020 was the year to rediscover Northern Ireland and all it has to offer.

High impact OOH campaigns from brands across the hospitality and tourism sector will have played a key role in the growth, and as we move towards Christmas, experiences and gift vouchers will be undoubtedly popular.