HOTELS across the Capital have been inundated with early room bookings for this year’s Festival period, fuelling hopes of a resurgence for Edinburgh’s tourism sector.
The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce released figures yesterday showing more than 42 per cent of the city’s hotel rooms had already been booked for July this year.
That figure, as of January 1, is a substantial rise on 2011 and 2012, when early bookings for the same month were languishing at 35 per cent.
The chamber revealed hotel bookings for August were also sitting at more than 46 per cent – a slight increase on the 45 per cent confirmed early for the height of the Festival in the previous two years.
The encouraging results were touted in defiance of forecasts earlier this week from the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, which predicted a tough first three months of 2013 for tourism businesses in the Capital. Chamber chief executive David Birrell said: “The evidence suggests that London 2012 Olympics had a negative impact on Edinburgh’s hotel performance during the Festival period.
“However, Edinburgh’s hotel performance in the last quarter of 2012 was actually better than in that period in 2011.”
The average hotel occupancy rate for the city between July and December last year was 81.9 per cent, down 1.4 per cent on the same period in 2011.
However, the Edinburgh chamber said a revival had been sparked by a bumper fortnight leading up to Christmas, with occupancy rates for December higher than the previous year.
Mr Birrell added: “There were also more guests in Edinburgh’s hotels in the two days before New Year. In fact, on the 31st it was very difficult to get a bed.”
Royal British Hotel acting general manager Andrew Stewart said he felt positive about visitor numbers for 2013 after a strong finish to last year.
He said: “I’d say optimistically we’re looking to do better than we did two years ago, and it was quite a good year, 2011.
“I agree to a certain extent that the London 2012 Olympics had an affect on part of the summer last year up here.”
Mr Stewart predicted the hotel would still receive its usual flood of Festival bookings across April and March despite already healthy figures for this summer.
A VisitScotland spokesman said coming events like the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and Ryder Cup at Gleneagles had left Edinburgh in an incredibly strong position for 2013.
The spokesman said: “Undoubtedly times have been tough; poor weather impacted many businesses, a hugely successful Olympic Games captured the essence of a nation and ongoing economic uncertainty have all impacted, but Scots are well known for their resilience and we are keeping strong and positive.
“Scotland and, of course, Edinburgh, remain top of everyone’s wish list to visit.”