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Big leap for accommodation providers

Festive boost as tourism bookings show sharp rise

Malcolm RougheadScotland’s accommodation businesses are celebrating a bumper festive season after more than a quarter reported an increase in bookings, according to VisitScotland.

Research commissioned by the national tourism organisation found 26% of businesses have enjoyed a jump in the number of bookings, compared to the Christmas and New Year period last year.

The findings follow the announcement that hotels in Glasgow are heading for a Hogmanay sell out.  A recent survey of seven major city centre hotels, conducted by Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, revealed that they expected capacity to reach 99% on New Year’s Eve.

On average, visitors to Scotland from October to December stay more than 13 million nights and spend £955 million.

The increase in booking numbers comes off the back of the success of festive attractions, including the Virgin Money Street of Light at Edinburgh’s Christmas festival, which has seen visitors from across the globe snap up over 175,000 tickets for the dazzling event on the capital’s Royal Mile.

Malcom Roughead (pictured), chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “At a time of year traditionally considered low season, we continue to see an increasing numbers of visitors enjoying the array of fantastic festive attractions on offer across Scotland during the winter.

“These encouraging findings are a really positive indication of a strong festive period for the Scottish accommodation sector, and Scottish Tourism in general.”

The results of VisitScotland research were taken from the latest Scottish Accommodation Occupancy Survey (SAOS), commissioned by VisitScotland and conducted by TNS.  The SAOS is used by VisitScotland to help monitor occupancy in Scotland’s tourist accommodation sectors.

A recent report from accountants BDO found hotel occupancy rates and revenue in Scotland were higher in September 2015 than anywhere else in the UK.  The report found Edinburgh had the highest occupancy rate in the UK, including London, at 92.1% respectively.

John Donnelly, chief executive at Marketing Edinburgh, said: “As we come towards the end of what has been a fantastic year for the city, it’s great to see Edinburgh topping the charts with the highest hotel occupancy rate in the UK, including London.

“These figures reinforce the city’s position as one of the top tourism destinations in the world.  In what has been a challenging year for the sector in other cities, these figures put Edinburgh on the map as a real success story of 2015.  A world-class destination with stunning architecture, scenery, warm and welcoming people and quality accommodation options to suit every budget, Edinburgh’s allure is undeniable.

“Coming off the back of this success, November and December have also been bumper months for the city, with Edinburgh’s Christmas driving considerable footfall and spend.  Next year promises to follow suit with a number of major international conferences and events on the horizon.  With ambition for further growth, we will continue to foster an environment for investment and development of quality accommodation options to cater for this considerable demand.”

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