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Queuing to Leave the Country

A 7.7 percent increase in terminal passengers at London’s three airports has translated into some of the highest demand levels ever seen at the capital’s airport hotels, according to the HotelBenchmark Survey by Deloitte. Year-to-September occupancy levels at London airport hotels are up 7 percent to reach 80 percent. This represents the highest rate of growth in demand ever reported by these markets.
Occupancy at Heathrow hotels is running at 79 percent for the year-to-date, marginally exceeding 2000 performance levels and the best performance for four years. Occupancy levels at Gatwick remain at 83 percent, mirroring 2003 performance levels.

Tourism marketing organisation, Visit Britain, recently predicted that an estimated 26.34 million international visitors will come to Britain this year, making 2004 the best ever year on record for visitors numbers. This increase is stimulating demand for London’s hotels which should report some of the most impressive occupancy growth this year.

But it is not just inbound visitors that are generating demand for airport hotels. Outbound traffic is also at record levels with 49.23 million UK residents travelling abroad, according to International Passenger Survey figures for the first three quarters of 2004.

Marvin Rust, tourism, hospitality and leisure partner at Deloitte comments: “The poor summer weather and price affordability of the budget airlines means that more and more Britons are escaping for long weekends abroad, often to the sun. The strength of the Euro to Sterling is also making the UK more price competitive for Europeans than ever before. However, the strength of the Euro and Sterling against the dollar will continue to dampen the return of Americans to Europe.

“This record occupancy growth in the airport markets is very encouraging and is one of the reasons why the UK, and London in particular, is leading the European hotel performance recovery.”