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An upturn in hotel work in 2017 looks set to continue as the depressed value of the sterling boosts overseas visitors and prompts greater investment. Although starts in the hotel & leisure sector slipped 3% last year, the outlook is improving fast. In the three months to July 2017, the underlying value of project starts in the hotel and leisure sector surged by 43%. Glenigan economics director Allan Wilen comments: “The sector is emerging as an early beneficiary of the Brexit vote. The marked fall in Sterling since the start of 2016 has enhanced the UK’s appeal as a tourist destination. Rising overseas visitor numbers over the next two years are expected to spur investment in hotel & leisure facilities.” Indications earlier in the pipeline remain positive. There has been a sustained rise in the projects securing detailed planning consent over the last two years. In the 12 months to July 2017, the underlying value of approvals was up 18% after a 32% rise in the latest quarter. London dominates the hotel sub-segment of this sector. Savills estimates that half of all hotel transactions in 2016 were in the capital and investment in hotels in the capital reached £3.9 billion in 2016 according to JLL, whose 2016 London Hotel Development Monitor forecast 16,000 new hotel rooms to be added in the capital by 2018. This did not immediately feed through into a significant boost for the underlying value of planning approvals in London. That trend was in keeping with a muted nationwide performance and approvals have picked up significantly in the capital over 2017 and provided a fillip for starts. In 2016, starts in the hotel & leisure sector in London rose just 8% but this rise has accelerated with a 20% increase so far in 2017. Outside of the capital, the 2017 Manchester Crane Survey from Deloitte showed a 63% increase in hotel bedrooms under construction. “Our data suggest that 2017 will see the largest delivery of hotel rooms since our data collection for this sector started in 2006, with all rooms currently under construction due to complete within the next 12 months,” says Deloitte. Glenigan’s data reflects this with hotel & leisure starts in the North West down by 7% so far in 2017 but the nationwide outlook remains positive. VisitBritain suggests that 2017 will be a record year for inbound tourists to the UK with spending by overseas visitors expected to reach £24.1 billion. Visitor levels are expected to increase by 4% to 38.1 million in 2017 and hotel developers continue to invest the budget hotel chains an important driver. PwC estimates that two-thirds of the new bedrooms created are from a branded ‘budget’ chain, such as Travelodge, which in March 2017 announced plans to spend £125 million expanding its estate. Mr. Wilen adds: “The rate of new hotel completions is likely to rise faster than overall market demand, putting further pressure on independent and out-dated hotel premises to either significantly refurbish or retire out-dated hotel stock.”

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