| 7°C Dublin

... and now for a bit of surprisingly good news

DESPITE the banking system going round the U-bend, unemployment spiking, and more rain forecast, there is a glimmer of light and hope. And it is coming from one of the most battered sectors of industry, tourism.

Profits for upmarket Dublin hotels shot up 40 per cent in the last year, a new report seen by the Sunday Independent shows.

Names like the Shelbourne, the Radisson, Hilton and Mariott in Dublin beat hotels in Amsterdam, Barcelona and Berlin with 73 per cent room occupancy in the year to February 2011, the HotSats survey from TRI Hospitality Consulting shows.

In the first concrete positive figures for the sector since the recession started, gross operating profits are up 40 per cent, and the all-important revenue made on each room rose by 33 per cent.

"Our internal numbers show demand was rising for most of 2010, but we had to drop prices to get that," says Tim Whyte, Ireland manager for Rezidor, the Radisson hotels parent group.

Recent research by Hotels.com said Irish hotels were the cheapest in Western Europe.

The bad news for punters might be less bargain room rates. With disposable income stymied here international visitors will be vital.

Further figures for Dublin hotels from STR Global predict double-digit growth in revenue and room occupancy this year. "We're optimistic for 2011," says Whyte.

Sunday Indo Business