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Hotels giant cheer as bookings surge 66 per cent | Glasgow art school’s Mackintosh building to be faithfully reinstated | Graeme Roy: Budget debate vital to growth prospects

The owner of Holiday Inn has seen a recovery in business as global travel begins to open up after the pandemic.

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) said revenues per available room, the industry’s preferred measure, was up 66% in the three months to the end of September compared with a year earlier.

However, this was still 21% down compared with pre-Covid levels.

The growth was particularly strong in the US during the summer holidays, with some hotels exceeding 2019 levels for occupancy levels.

This meant overall revenues per available room in the country was down just 10% on pre-Covid levels, dragged down by poor demand in upmarket and luxury hotels in towns and cities.

In Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa (EMEAA) revenues per available room was down 43% on 2019, although this was up 86% on 2020, with occupancy levels rising to 49% versus 34% in the three months to the end of June, when many countries still had travel bans in place.

The UK saw revenues per available room down 22% versus 2019, and the rest of Europe as off by 48%.

Chief executive of IHG Keith Barr said: “Trading continued to improve significantly in the third quarter.

“Revenues per available room recovered closer towards pre-pandemic levels as more and more guests returned to our hotels around the world.

“Domestic leisure demand was particularly strong in a number of markets over the summer, where occupancy and rate climbed back to 2019 levels.

“Discretionary business travel, group bookings and international trips have also shown increasingly encouraging signs, on top of continuing good levels of essential business demand.”

He added that the company opened 79 hotels in the period and signed another 91 into the company’s pipeline.

A review of about 200 Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels remains on track, with more than 90 hotels exited already or with an exit confirmed and more than 40 committed to improvement plans.

Looking forward, the chief executive said: “While we remain vigilant to fluctuating Covid restrictions in different markets, the pace of returning demand is very encouraging as travel increasingly reopens in every region.”

Graeme Roy: Budget debate vital to growth prospects

Shortly after the 2014 independence referendum, the cross-party Smith Commission recommended major new tax and spending powers be transferred to Holyrood.

As a result, from a Parliament where only around a fraction of its budget was linked to taxes raised in Scotland in 1999, taxes linked to the Scottish Budget are on track to rise to over £20 billion within the next few years.

Glasgow art school’s Mackintosh building to be faithfully reinstated after devastating fire

Rebuilding the Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh building as a “faithful reinstatement” of the one destroyed by fire three years ago is the preferred option for its future, art school chiefs have said.

The world-renowned building, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, was extensively damaged when a fire broke out late on June 15, 2018 as it neared the end of a £35 million restoration project following a previous fire in May 2014.

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