The figures are up from 74% in 2015 and 71% in 2014, according to data from Marketing Birmingham’s Regional Observatory, which was provided by travel research company STR Global.
Hotel revenues in the city also rose strongly during the season. The Average Room Rate in spring 2016 was £68, an increase of £7 from March - May 2015, while revenue per available room (RevPAR) was £50, up from £45 in the same period last year.
Events contributing to the seasonal growth in Birmingham’s accommodation sector included the All England Badminton Championships at the Barclaycard Arena and Crufts at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in March. The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Congress and Manufacturing in Motion (MACH) helped April’s average occupancy to jump 6% compared with the same month last year. In May, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) Annual Congress (24-26 May) and Birmingham Pride (28-29 May) saw occupancy rate increases of 11% and 22% respectively compared with the same three- and two-day periods in 2015.
Emma Gray, Director of Marketing & Communications at Meet Birmingham, the city’s official business tourism programme, said: “With a 17% growth in domestic tourists since 2010, and the largest increase of international guests outside London in the last two years, Birmingham is welcoming more visitors than ever. It’s therefore encouraging to see the city’s rising popularity being mirrored by strong figures within its hotel sector.
“While a host of new brands have recently chosen to launch in Birmingham, there are a further 14 hotels – amounting to more than 2,000 bedrooms – in the pipeline, demonstrating the confidence that investors currently hold in Birmingham’s visitor economy and tourism offer.”
In March, international hotel brand Park Regis launched its first European property in Birmingham following a £50 million renovation of the former Auchinleck House building on Broad Street. AC Hotel Birmingham – with 90 bedrooms – made its UK debut beside the city’s canals at the Mailbox in May.
James Thomlinson, General Manager, AC Hotel Birmingham, commented: “The launch of the AC Hotel Birmingham, following an extensive renovation by Valor Hospitality in conjunction with Marriott International, shows the continued confidence in the Birmingham hospitality sector.
“We firmly believe that the AC Hotel, a new brand to the UK, fits well within the Mailbox and Gas Street Basin location. Since opening, we have experienced strong demand for a design-led, lifestyle hotel that fits well with the renaissance and vibrancy the city of Birmingham is experiencing right now. Our customer response and positive feedback has been excellent and we are really excited for our future within this great city.”
Madeleine Tye, Regional Director of Sales at Interstate Europe Hotels & Resorts – which operates properties including Hampton by Hilton Birmingham Broad Street, Holiday Inn Express Birmingham Snow Hill and Staybridge Suites Birmingham – added:
“We have a strong portfolio of hotels here in Birmingham and this positive trend is something we’re seeing for ourselves. As the city becomes an increasingly popular choice for both leisure and business travellers alike, we hope to see this trend continue as Birmingham further asserts its place as a leading UK destination.”
Occupancy levels in Birmingham grew for 16 months in succession up to October 2015 when compared with the same period in the previous year. They peaked at 83% during “Super September”, when the city hosted two Rugby World Cup fixtures and the redeveloped New Street station and Grand Central opened. Birmingham posted its highest-ever occupancy rates in November 2014, with an 85% average.