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Liege: The hotel industry in the Fervent City rekindles its sacred fire

Easily reached from Germany, France, and the Netherlands and located an hour from Brussels, Liege is open to Europe. In recent years the city has been modernizing its infrastructures to improve its image and appeal. So while hotel performances in Belgium have been on a downturn since the terrorist attacks in Brussels in March 2016, Liege shows improved results.

The economic capital and leading tourist destination in Wallonia, Liege covers an area of around 70 km2. It has a population of close to 200,000 in its city center, for 700,000 in the greater urban area. Urban renewal has been carried out in recent years along the banks of the Meuse, its major axes and some of its neighborhoods as well as the creation of cultural sites such as La Boverie, Centre International d’Art et de Culture (CIAC), that opened its doors in 2016, and allowed progressive improvement of the city’s image.

Its economic dynamism is closely related to its infrastructures: its port - the third largest freight river port in Europe (20 million / year)- its TGV (connected to Paris, Brussels, Cologne…) and its son airport. These have made it possible to develop logistics activities, such as the “Trilogiport” project for a multimodal platform aims to strengthen. But Liege is also active in other sectors with many major forms such as AB InBev (the brewery Jupiler), ArcelorMittal (steel industry), Umicore (metalworking industry), FN Herstal (armament), Safran Aero Boosters (aeronautics) and Eurogentec (biotechnology). More than 15 years ago, the city began to diversify its economy; while industry shrank, the city gradually specialized in realizing state of the arts infrastructures, working with energy efficiency and biotechnologies. In the years to come, the city also hopes to create a digital and creative neighborhood in the city’s center.

The Province of Liege has a fairly rich heritage, with no fewer than 65 sites and museums distinguished by the Tourism Commission of the Walloon region. After the Musée du Grand Curtius in 2009 then La Boverie / CIAC which finished being renovated in 2016 (and entered a partnership with the Louvre Museum), today MADmusée has been subject to a major investment program of 2.8 million euros for a future surface of 500 m². The local events calendar stands out for a series of music festivals and hosting major international athletic events.

The Province of Liege has a commercial accommodations capacity totaling more than 26,500 beds, but the hotel supply and especially the supply of chains are much more limited there, with fewer than 1,700 rooms including 1,100 chains in Liege and the surrounding area. The leading hotel groups in the city are the French AccorHotels and Louvre Hotels, as well as Alliance, Wyndham with its Ramada brand, and also Carlson Rezidor (with Park Inn). There is also Pentahotel, the hotel division of the Chinese group New World, a chain whose offer is growing stronger through reconversions in Belgium in recent years. Inversely, the former Crowne Plaza hotel has become the independent urban resort Les Comtes de Méan.

In 2016, hoteliers in Liege published improved activity results. Their RevPAR (revenue per available room) is up by 4.9% compared to the same period in 2015. This may be explained by the combined increase in occupancy rate, which grew by +0.4 points to reach 80.4%, and the average daily rate that grew by +4.4%. Recent trends remained favorable because domestic clientele account for a large share of arrivals (55.8%), ahead of the Dutch (16%), the French (8.0%) and German (6.2%) arrivals international demand is thus not very sensitive. But the improved results may be explained first and foremost by the improved quality of the hotel supply in Liege: properties have targeted a renovation policy for the existing supply. The city has adopted a global development strategy and hoteliers have taken notice, particularly with the forthcoming arrival of the Dutch operator Van der Valk in Liege when conversion and modernization works of the former Holiday Inn hotel (219 rooms) will be complete. After difficult years, the hotel market in the Fervent City appears to have rekindled its sacred fire.

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