The Scottish Accommodation Occupancy Survey, commissioned by VisitScotland and conducted by NFO System Three, highlights that many accommodation sectors have reported significant increases in occupancy rates in January to March, compared to the same period last year.
Hotel room occupancy in the first quarter of 2002 was at an average of 49% – a five year high – and 3% up on the same period in 2001. Guesthouses and B&Bs saw the same increase to an average room occupancy of 25%, and self-catering experienced a 4% rise to 27% – the highest levels since 1998 for these accommodation sectors.
Significant indications within the latest statistics include a 12% rise in weekend occupancy rates in March 2002 showing the growth of the leisure short-break market. The hotel room occupancy statistics in this month show that they reached their highest levels in five years, with a 5% increase to 55%.
There have been increases across the board but the March figures for guesthouses and B&Bs show rises of 8% for small towns and 10% in country and village locations, indicating a particularly welcome boost for the badly hit FMD areas.
Philip Riddle, VisitScotland chief executive welcomed the first signs of recovery in the industry. “These figures are very encouraging for all involved in the tourism sector,” he said “after what has been a very difficult 12 months, indicating that Scottish tourism is showing the first signs of regaining its place within the global marketplace.
“A wide range of campaigns and promotions has been undertaken over the winter and spring to help Scotland start its recovery, and these figures demonstrate that these efforts are bearing fruit.”
“But we cannot be complacent, he added. “Although encouraging, the figures bear out that there is a lot more work to be done for a full recovery to be achieved with the most important part of our season still to come. Scottish tourism was badly hit last year and a great deal of effort has to go into restoring the industry to the strength and confidence we all know it deserves.”