London leads

01 January 2000
London leads

TOP UK hotels made strong gains in occupancy last year, with London rising to first place in a league table of 25 European cities.

Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester also rose in the league, but Edinburgh was the only UK city to enjoy an increase in average achieved room rate.

According to the 1994 EuroCity Survey, occupancy in hotels of four-star standard and above rose to 74% in London last year from 67.5% the previous year. The rise took the capital from sixth place to first in the survey.

Edinburgh rose from ninth place to fourth, with occupancy last year at 68.6%, Manchester (63.6%) rose from 20th to 10th, and Birmingham (53.7%) rose from 23rd to 19th.

But while 13 of the 25 European cities enjoyed occupancy rises, only Edinburgh, Geneva, Istanbul, Prague and Zurich showed increases in average room rates.

Edinburgh's £3.88 rise to £63.19 contrasted with Birmingham's virtual standstill at £53.30, London's £2.97 drop to £96.32 and Manchester's £1.17 drop to £47.48.

London was seen as the most attractive European city for hotel investment in 1993, with purchasers believing the property market had bottomed out.

The capital also headed a Top 10 of cities in a hotel investment barometer, which looked at prospects for investment in 1994. Manchester was ranked equal seventh alongside Berlin, Budapest and Madrid.

The survey was carried out among 268 hotels by management consultancy Pannell Kerr Forster Associates (PKFA), merchant bank Salomon Brothers and chartered surveyor Jones Lang Wootton (JLW).

Frank Croston, director of PKFA, said hotels whose occupancy grew last year should have a good 1994, showing average growth at or above inflation. However, those suffering a decline in 1993 would continue to struggle this year.

JLW partner Kay Dymock said favourable exchange rates, low interest rates and low property values had contributed to London's desirability for investment.

lThe 1994 EuroCity Survey costs £500 and is available from Sarah-Jane Dawson at PKFA, tel:071-831 7393.

SCOTLAND'S tourism industry fared better than in the rest of the UK during the recession, and is now growing, according to a survey published last week.

The first quarterly tourism index, by the Scottish Tourist Board and Royal Bank of Scotland, shows that hotel room occupancy in Scotland has stayed at more than 50% since 1988, whereas in England it dropped below this figure in 1992 and remained there last year.

Scotland's hotels went through a minor recession in 1992, but business picked up last year, with the first and last quarters of the year reaching the highest occupancy levels since the peak year of 1990.

Tourism is said to have reflected the economy as a whole, the recession in Scotland having been less severe than in the rest of the UK, with a relatively smaller increase in unemployment levels.

A sample 1,000 Scottish tourism businesses, including restaurants, were asked about their expectations for this year. While only 19% expected a decline in business over the year, 40% hoped for an increase.

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