The usual suspects - global economic conditions, the war in Iraq as well as an appreciating Euro - have all served to depress hotel performance across Belgium and the Netherlands. Latest figures from the HotelBenchmark Survey by Deloitte & Touche saw hotel performance across the two countries decline for the ninth consecutive month in July, with revenue per available room (revPAR) falling by 11.7 percent compared to the previous year.
Year-to-July 2003 results reveal that although hoteliers in the Netherlands have suffered greater declines in revPAR than their counterparts in Belgium (14.5 percent versus 6.5 percent) hoteliers in the Netherlands are still managing to achieve a higher revPAR than those in Belgium (€65 compared to €57).
Latest preliminary data from the World Tourism Organisation shows that during the first four months of 2003, international tourist arrivals to the Netherlands fell by 11.3 percent compared to the same period in 2002, due to reduced demand from both North American and Asian markets. This has translated into reduced demand for hotel accommodation with all hotels in the Netherlands reporting a nine percent fall in occupancy during the first seven months of the year. In the capital, Amsterdam however, although occupancy has also fallen by nine percent, hoteliers are still managing to achieve the highest occupancy levels of any city in Europe, with year-to-date figures currently standing at 71.6 percent. Average room rates have however been harder hit, falling by 10.2 percent to €127, resulting in an overall decline in revPAR of 18 percent to €91.
Following the collapse of Sabena, the Belgium national airline, at the end of 2001, hoteliers in both Zaventum and Brussels have experienced difficult trading conditions, however, over recent months the decline in both occupancy and average room rate has started to level out. The addition of two new hotels in Zaventum within the next twelve months however is likely put hotel performance under pressure again. Year-to-date figures show that both markets are currently reporting a decline in revPAR of 7.1 percent and 6.2 percent respectively compared to the same period last year.
The Netherlands hotel market is expected to remain under pressure during 2003 whilst the Belgium hotel market is likely to experience more stable results. With the Dutch economy contracting again during the second quarter of the year (the third successive quarter of GDP declines) business demand looks unlikely to pick up until the economic situation improves.