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Oil conference lifts revenues for Aberdeen hotel sector

THE hotel sector in Aberdeen enjoyed a 40.8% year-on-year hike in revenues in September as people flocked to the Granite City for a major oil industry conference, a survey has revealed.

The survey, published yesterday by accountancy firm BDO, also showed significant year-on-year growth in revenues for hotels in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Inverness in September.

Scottish hotels enjoyed a 13.5% overall year-on-year rise in revenue per available room in September, to £70.25. BDO, which surveys a broad range of three and four-star properties, noted this was nearly £18 higher than the corresponding figure for the UK as a whole, excluding London.

Revenue per available room, or rooms yield, is calculated by multiplying occupancy by the average room rate achieved.

Hotels in England, excluding London, and Wales recorded respective year-on-year rises in revenue per available room of 3.7% and 1.6% in September.

Scottish hotels enjoyed an overall occupancy rate of 85.7% in September, according to the BDO survey, up from 83% in the same month of last year.

The occupancy rate in Aberdeen stood at 83.2% in September, up from 83.1% in the same month of 2012. The year-on-year hike in hotel revenues in the Granite City was driven by sharp rises in room rates, as the Society of Petroleum Engineers' biennial Offshore Europe conference and exhibition boosted demand for hotel rooms.

BDO partner Alastair Rae described the year-on-year increase in Aberdeen hotel revenues as "quite remarkable".

Citing a 25% rise in visitors to Offshore Europe, which he noted had been attended by more than 63,000 people over four days, he added: "This highlighted just how significant oil and gas is for the continued prosperity of the hospitality sector in the city."

However, he also highlighted the general strength of the Scottish hotel sector in September.

Glasgow hotels achieved revenue per available room of £60.54 in September, up 7.5% on the same month of last year. The Glasgow hotel sector recorded occupancy rates of 88% in September, up from 87.8% in the same month of last year.

Hotels in Edinburgh achieved an overall 8.2% year-on-year rise in rooms yield in September to £81.55. The occupancy rate for the hotel sector in the Scottish capital was 90.3% in September, up from 86.7% in the same month of last year.

The Inverness hotel sector achieved a 7.5% year-on-year rise in rooms yield in September, to £57.07. Overall occupancy for Inverness hotels was 91.8% in September, up from 86.8% in the same month of last year.

Mr Rae said: "Aberdeen aside, Scotland had a very successful September with healthy, and similar, revenue improvements across the other three cities.

"Edinburgh and Inverness both managed good revenue increases at the same time as occupancy rose, which is indicative of a strengthening market."

He added: "Scotland reported revenue which was almost £18 higher per room than regional UK and occupancy almost six (percentage points) higher, both of which indicate the strength of the market north of the Border. This year does appear to mark something of a return to form for the sector, with continued improvements in performance."

Mr Rae observed that the increased revenues were "needed" by hotels, given a continued rise in the costs of food, staff and energy.

He added: "It is clear that the sector is in much better shape than it was at a comparable time last year.

"There is now a gap, with a brief respite for Christmas and New Year, before the leisure season begins again and, hopefully, operators will have built up sufficient cash surpluses to see them through these leaner times."

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