Rates for hotels in the United Kingdom have risen in the past 12 months and are now about 10 per cent higher than they were a year ago, according to a report from the hotel industry body.
The increase is a stark contrast to what they were 10 years ago, when rates were about 10-20 per cent lower, said John Ward, the head of hotel and tourism at the Association of British Hotels and Resorts.
“I think there is a bit of a pause in the market.
But we are seeing that there is interest and there is appetite to stay in the sector,” he said.
Ward said that the hotel sector had grown about 16 per cent in the last three years, compared with 10 per year before.
“The big picture is that people are increasingly staying in hotels,” he added.
“There is a real interest in staying at the hotels, they are doing a better job of attracting people.”
Ward said it was important to remember that rates had gone up because of the recession and that there were still a lot of people staying at hotels.
He said the hotel market was still recovering and it was still “very challenging to attract people to stay.”
“We need to be mindful that the growth has come from the downturn,” he explained.
“We have had to build up the economy in the hospitality sector, we have to rebuild it again.”
The latest figures from the Hotel Association showed that occupancy rates in 2018 were up 2.5 per cent on the previous year, while the number of people sleeping in hotels rose 3.5 million to 2.85 million.
The hotel industry has been struggling for some time as the number and type of rooms in the UK have declined.
It is not yet clear how much of the increase is due to people moving into the industry and how much to better service their hotel rooms.
Ward noted that there had been a reduction in hotel vacancies since last year and the number had risen for hotels over the last two years.
In the last year, the number occupancy rates for hotels increased for all types of accommodation, and occupancy rates increased for hotels with an average of five rooms per guest.
“When you have a downturn, people are staying longer, and it means there is more demand for rooms,” he told CBC News.
“And the hotels are doing well.”
But some of the hoteliers are also seeing the decline of the industry as a result of other factors, including the impact of the Brexit vote and a lack of international competition.
Ward pointed out that the average occupancy rate at hotels in London is 4.5 to 5.5, which is the same as at other major centres such as Barcelona, Madrid and Paris.
“But London has not had the same amount of international accommodation,” he noted.
“If we look at the rest of the UK, the occupancy rate is 5.6, that is the lowest we have been in a decade.”
He added that the trend for occupancy rates to fall in the U.K. has been in the direction of lower than it would be elsewhere.
“You might think that London would have a much higher occupancy rate, and London is still an expensive place to live, but we have seen a reduction,” he observed.
“In terms of international, we are not getting as many visitors to London.
And we do not have as many international visitors to the UK as we used to.”
Ward noted there was an increase in foreign visitors to hotels in 2017, and said there was a real need for the industry to “grow again” if it was going to compete in the future.
He also said that, given the challenges of Brexit, the industry would have to continue to work hard to attract new business.
“It is an incredibly difficult time to be in the industry, but the industry has to be strong and that means maintaining a strong presence in the tourism market,” he concluded.
With files from The Associated Press