The UK will lead the recovery of the hospitality sector in Europe as “the first train out of the station”, according to hotel data analyst STR.
Robin Rossmann, managing director of STR, forecast “a massive ramping up” of demand from May 17, the UK government’s re-opening date for hospitality and suggested the rest of Europe would follow “one or two months” behind.
Rossmann noted April saw the first increase in occupancy across major cities in Europe since the latest lockdown, but the increase ranged only from 5% to 15%.
He reported current occupancy in the UK at 15% among hotels that are open, but said: “The UK will ramp up significantly when hotels are allowed to re-open fully from May 17.”
UK bookings had increased in anticipation of the re-opening, he said, noting: “As of April 19, the picture is much better.” He reported “double-digit business on the books and a pick-up of two, three, four percentage points each week”.
Forward bookings for the 90 days from April 19 showed UK hotel occupancy rising to about 25% at the weekends of May 22 and May 29, and Rossmann reported “spikes increasing into July”.
He described “business on the books” in the UK as “building every week” and said: “Occupancy should easily exceed 50% and we expect much higher.
“Occupancy will be higher in the UK regions and lower for London. UK regional occupancy averages 40% already for open hotels, and London 30%. But when you add closed hotels, regional occupancy is 28% and London 17%.”
By contrast, he said: “France, Belgium and Italy are flat through to July. The Netherlands and Switzerland are a little higher [for occupancy].
“Spain is the highest forward-booking market after the UK. Barcelona and Madrid have not much business on the books, but the Balearic and Canary Islands are positive.”
Rossmann argued: “The UK is the first train out of the station. We believe the profile [of UK recovery] will be similar in France, Germany, Italy and other markets.
“Europe’s performance should follow the UK, delayed by one to two months. We expect a massive ramping up through June and July.”
However, he warned: “London will struggle to attract as many European visitors as before the pandemic due to the strength of sterling post-Brexit.”