More than 820,000 hotel rooms were sold in the city centre in the first five months of the year and the International Business Festival in June will boost the figures even more. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool city centre’s booming hotel sector is on course for another record year after more than 820,000 rooms were sold in the first five months of 2018.
In the whole of 2017 there were just over 2m rooms sold so it is likely the record will be smashed once again. With the return of the International Business Festival in June figures for the half year will almost certainly have passed the 1m mark.
The new comes as the Singaporean Fragrance Group reveals more details of the four-star hotel it has planned for the city’s former Municipal Buildings.
Fragrance has submitted a planning application with designs put together by Liverpool architects Falconer Chester Hall which include restoration of the Dale Street building’s historic features and the installation of a swimming pool, sauna and gym.
The company bought the site from the council in 2016 for just over £10m. Also submitted to planning is a £30m scheme to convert North Western Halls in Lime Street back into a hotel for the first time in 85 years.
On the rise
The latest hotel rooms sales figures, released by the city council, illustrate how much progress Liverpool’s visitor economy has seen over the past decade since Liverpool was European Capital of Culture in 2008.
During that year there were a total of 910,000 rooms sold and an occupancy rate of 75.8% and in 2017 this had risen to 78.7%.
There has also been a huge rise in capacity. In 2008 Liverpool had 37 hotels, apart hotels and guesthouses with a total of 3,481 bedrooms. By the end of last year that had risen to 67 new locations offering a total of 6,600 bedrooms, with several more hotels now in the pipeline.
However, at a seminar earlier this year hoteliers said there was still a “feast or famine” issue in the city with big demand at the weekend balanced by much slower trade on weeknights.
Liverpool low business density relative to other similar-sized cities means bookings from people travelling on business is below where it needs to be.
Councillor Wendy Simon, Deputy Mayor of Liverpool and cabinet member for Culture, Tourism and Events, said: “In many ways I’m not surprised by these amazing figures – Liverpool’s hotel sector has boomed over the past decade by maintaining a real focus on quality and affordability in what is a very competitive market.
“Liverpool city centre now has a worldwide reputation as a dynamic place to visit and the city council and our partners have worked tremendously hard to develop its appeal across all ages and tastes.
“The city is now the 5th most popular for overseas visitors and our 2018 events programme is building on this appeal by showcasing the very best of Liverpool with the Biennial, International Music Festival and The Giants all still to come.
“The midweek market, traditionally our weakest area, is also being addressed through Exhibition Centre Liverpool and our ability to create and host major commercial events such as the International Business Festival.”