Visits to hotels in the UK have fallen for the first time in four years as room rate is predicted to fall in 2009 according to the Hotel Britain 2009 report revealed this week.

The report, by consultancy business PKF revealed last night, surveys 548 hotels across the UK totalling 88,728 rooms.

The hotel sector, which had been proving resilient since the start of the credit crunch in July 2007, is now likely to suffer at the hands of the recession.

Robert Barnard, partner hotel consultancy service at PKF, said: ‘With occupancy already beginning to drop average achieved room rate (AARR), which has been the main driver behind rooms yield growth recently, may quickly follow.’

The report found UK occupancy fell year on year by 2.5% in 2008 back down to 2004 levels.

But despite less demand, hoteliers have still seen growth in average achieved room rate (AARR) in 2008 up by 2.3% to £100.33, the highest since PKF began its survey in 2004.

London has faired better than regional cities with average achieved room rate (AARR) up 3.8% to £140.56. But occupancy fell by 1.7% to 80.2% with the daily room yield for compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5% in London.

Barnard said although the hotel sector faces a challenging year in 2009 due to the deepening economic downturn exceptional growth in the market over the last five years does give the industry a strong starting point. He said last night that international events, new concepts and further investments may soften the impact.

He said: ‘There is no doubt that there are challenges ahead, but while this 2009 edition of Hotel Britain is the gloomiest yet, there are important positives to remember. The UK is hosting a number of international sporting events in 2009 such as The Ashes and the ICC World Twenty20 and these may boost UK visitor numbers.

‘Equally, Sterling has dropped to record lows against the Euro and the US Dollar and this should encourage visitors from both Europe and North America who, in the last few years, have avoided the UK due to the strength of Sterling. The North American visitor market to the UK may also be buoyed on two fronts by the appointment of new USA President Barack Obama: firstly, because we are no longer in an election year when most Americans tend not to travel; and secondly, by aiding consumer confidence which may encourage people to travel.’

Hotel Britain 2009 costs £300 via PKF’s website at

For more see Property Week on Friday