Hotel sector demand puts Northern Ireland on Asian investor alert

​Belfast, 01 March 2017 - Belfast is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination and as a result the demand for hotel rooms is driving upwards rapidly, with the city seeing an increase in interest from global investors.

The tourism sector in Belfast has grown considerably, with around 145k cruise visitors arriving in the city in 2016. The new conference and exhibition centre at the Waterfront also led to around 73 conferences last year, generating more than 74,000 bed nights from business tourism.

Based on this increase, there has been a notably high level of global interest in the Belfast hotel market, with Asian investors in particular seeking opportunities.

Jileen Loo is Head of Asia Desk, International Capital Markets for CBRE Hotels. She said:

“In 2016 we saw close to £2billion of hotels sold to Asian investors in the UK and Europe. This is a rise of nearly 5 times as much as what Asian investors purchased at the peak of the last cycle, and though not the dominant region of capital source, it is the fastest growing. In addition to Asian hotel brands expanding overseas to grow in international markets, we are increasingly seeing investment from private wealth looking to tap into the burgeoning outbound Chinese tourism market.

“In 2016, Visit Britain recorded 37.3million visits to the UK, and nearly 270,000 of those visitors are from China. While American visitors still dominate (with over 3million visits to the UK last year), the Chinese are by far the fastest growing group (up 45% in the past 12 months.) Additionally, Chinese travelers on average spend over £2,000 per visit and stay 14 days per trip, versus Americans who only stay for 8 days and spend less than half that amount.

“From beautiful castles in fairy tale settings to a capital city rich in history, Northern Ireland has much to offer first time visitors. However, understanding the Chinese tourists’ characteristics, needs and preference is important to hotel owners and operators if they want to future proof themselves and respond to trends which will impact their P&L.”

CBRE have had enquiries from Asian investors looking at Northern Ireland, some of whom may consider hotel development projects.

CBRE are currently tracking a total of 27 hotel schemes in the development pipeline. across Belfast .  These schemes comprise around 3,750 bedrooms either on-site, planning granted, planning submitted or in pre-planning stage.

Approximately 1,100 rooms are on-site in the city with the following hotels under construction: AC Hotel by Marriott, Grand Central Hotel, Hampton by Hilton, the Maldron Hotel, Ten Square Hotel (extension) and the Titanic Hotel Belfast.

CBRE has documented the 27 hotel developments in a state-of-the-art interactive map which is the only resource of its kind in Belfast.

This map is available here.

Alex Speers, Senior Surveyor, CBRE commented:
 
“With a strong demand for hotel rooms and an ever-growing tourism industry, it is encouraging to see developers addressing this requirement in Belfast. The Hotel sector has strengthened over the last number of years and made significant strides in 2016 with the Bullitt Hotel and phase one of the Ten Square extension in the City Centre open.“
 
“Interestingly, on top of new hotels, a number of prominent hotels in the city are proposing extensions and refurbishments to create a stronger offering; these include the Fitzwilliam Hotel, Holiday Inn Express and Jurys Hotel.
 
An exciting addition to the Belfast Hotel market with these new developments are the number of new brands they are bringing to the market. Three of the six hotels on site will be branded which will include the AC by Marriott, Hampton by Hilton and the Maldron Hotel, all new brands for the city.
 
“The interactive map gives an immediate impression of the high levels of development going on across the city currently and what will happen in the near future. We see it being a unique resource for many investors, developers, existing hoteliers or in general any party doing research on the hotel market in Belfast.”
About CBRE Group, Inc.
CBRE Group, Inc. (NYSE:CBG), a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Los Angeles, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm (based on 2016 revenue).  The company has more than 75,000 employees (excluding affiliates), and serves real estate investors and occupiers through approximately 450 offices (excluding affiliates) worldwide.  CBRE offers a broad range of integrated services, including facilities, transaction and project management; property management; investment management; appraisal and valuation; property leasing; strategic consulting; property sales; mortgage services and development services.  Please visit our website at www.cbre.com.