Rugby helps hotels kick rivals into touch

HOTELS in Glasgow kicked their rivals into touch by recording the highest occupancy rate for Scotland at the start of summer.

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Just about every room was booked in May when the city hosted the HSBC Rugby 7s tournament which attracted hundreds of fans just weeks before the Commonwealth Games.

Rugby 7s has a huge following and the competition was identified as a major factor for hotels across Glasgow reporting that nearly nine out of every 10 rooms were snapped up that month.

The statistics were produced by accountants and business advisers BDO LLP. Partner Alastair Rae who specialises in the property, leisure and hospitality sector, revealed Glasgow achieved an occupancy rate of 86.3%.

He also revealed that rugby fans helped the city's hospitality industry score a double over its Scottish rivals when Glasgow also recorded the highest hotel revenue during May.

Scotland recorded the highest revenue in the UK even though the number of rooms booked overall north of the border dipped slightly, by 0.9% to 79.2%

The average cost of a hotel room in Scotland was £59.72 compared to £47.23 in rural Britain. Mr Rae said: "The slight fall in occupancy experienced across Scotland's hotel sector is to be expected when there is an increase in revenue.

"As prices rise there is a natural settling of the level of occupancy and we can see that as the tourism season developed, Scotland has soared ahead of the rest of the UK both in terms of occupancy and revenue."

He added: "The Aberdeen hotel sector continues to soar on the back of the oil and gas sector with revenue in May almost £20 higher than it was in the same month in 2007, indicating real growth over the last seven years.

"For Edinburgh and Glasgow, however, revenue numbers are lower than the pre-recession period.

"This is an indication of just how substantially revenue fell over the last seven years. Nevertheless these figures continue the excellent progress the sector has made this year and it must be looking forward to the best year financially since 2007."

Mr Rae says growing economic confidence is being mirrored by the amount of money people are now spending on leisure but insists there remains room for growth in the hospitality sector, which will be boosted if corporate spending returns to "pre-recession" levels.

With some analysts claiming the UK economy is stronger now than before the recession, he added: "There are indications that this is occurring, albeit, cautiously."

The Commonwealth Games have also boosted Glasgow's economy by millions of pounds.

gordon.thomson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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