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Europe : January slowly begins to thaw

Europe’s hotel industry posted one of the “best” performances in recent months with a drop in the RevPAR limited to -3.1%. Occupancy is back on an uptrend, particularly for the upscale, but average daily rates are kept low by the search for good deals.

The change in occupancy rate in January (+0.2 pts) makes it possible to reasonable hope that Europe’s hotel industry, long lost in uncertainty, is beginning resurface. It has been a long road. The drop in the RevPAR recorded in the first month of the year (-3.1%) must bee accumulated with the important drop recorded in January 2009 (-17.0%). The OR remains low – less than 50% - but its progress suggests a slight improvement in terms of occupancy. Average daily rates continue along a downtrend but it is less pronounced (-3.5%), suggesting that the hemorrhage has slowed and that Business clientele still expects favorable rate conditions and this should be true for the rest of the year. The most positive lesson in this month of January comes from the 4* category that had been humiliated throughout last year: its RevPAR remained stable (-0.9%) and the upscale segment had a better month than the economy segment and a pallid midscale. Better, its OR rose by 2.0 pts, a result that did not without having to hunt in the other segments grounds because the drop in prices was fairly homogeneous across the categories.Rule Britannia! The United Kingdom is back on a growth trend. British hotels – which were in the forefront for a long time in good years have – regained its leading role. Its room revenue posts growth by more than 4%, that is driven by the combined growth in average daily rate and OR. Belgium meanwhile is also up, a result achieved thanks to good occupancy. Because in parallel, Belgium’s hotel industry still must consent to a certain level of magnanimity regarding rates. Just behind, Portugal, Poland and Austria post a limited drop in their room revenues. The last two countries post the strongest increases in the OR (+3.0%) but also achieved them thanks to aggressive rate policies to support occupancy. Germany, Italy, France: this trio follows with a continuous drop between -4% and -5%. France, Sweden and Denmark, are the three countries with a significant drop in occupancy. Disappointingly, the results in Northern Europe are proportional to the outdoor mercury levels in these countries…. Nonetheless, the “dunces” of Europe’s hotel industry remained the same for 2010 as in 2009: Netherlands, Spain and even more so the two Eastern European neighbors Hungary and the Czech Republic.

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