Scots hotel custom 'stabilising'

Image caption Hotel residency rates had fallen sharply during April, the study found

Scottish hoteliers saw a fall in early springtime custom start to stabilise during May, according to the latest survey of the industry.

Accountancy firm PKF found occupancy rates for three and four-star hotels rose by nearly three percentage points to 77% in May, compared with May 2009.

In April, occupancy across Scotland fell by four percentage points, while it rose across the rest of the UK.

The average room yield rose by a few pence to £56 during May.

In Edinburgh, occupancy ran to 81%, with average room rates at £71.56.

During April, the yield hotels make on each room had fallen sharply - by 7% across Scotland, and by more than 10% in Edinburgh.

The improvement in both occupancy and in yield rose faster during May in England and Wales, but Scotland continued to have higher rates.

Occupancy rates south of the border rose above 72%.

'Good sign'

Within Scotland, three and four-star hotels found the rise in occupancy and revenue yield per room was stronger in Glasgow and in Aberdeen than it was in Edinburgh.

PKF industry specialists said value-for-money tourism was expected to recover before high-end custom, but that the slowness of recovery in tourism will not be helped by uncertainty over public sector jobs.

Alastair Rae, a partner at PKF, said the findings showed the industry stabilising rather than recovering, and that Scotland appeared to be lagging the rest of the UK in its recovery.

"A good summer is becoming increasingly important for tourist destinations like Edinburgh which no longer have as much business travel revenue at other times of the year," he said.

"However, the recovery in the less costly end of the market is generally a good sign as improvement filters upward and we can expect to see growth in the other price bands in the future."

Mr Rae concluded: "It is clear that many people remain uncertain about their personal economic position and this is reflected in muted increases in the leisure market.

"As these concerns are spread across most countries in Europe and beyond, it is clear that the leisure market may remain somewhat subdued in the immediate future until people start to feel more secure."

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