Sarah Stewart: Why Newcastle needs all these new hotels

With 12 new hotels opening across Newcastle and Gateshead, demand for rooms is remaining strong

The Hilton Newcastle Gateshead hotel
The Hilton Newcastle Gateshead hotel

There is real investor confidence in NewcastleGateshead at present, evident in new and improved retail offering such as the redevelopment of Monument Mall in Newcastle and Trinity Square in Gateshead, and demonstrated by the growth in hotel accommodation – with the very latest investments, including Motel One , charted in the Journal this week.

Since 2007, 12 new hotels have opened across Newcastle and Gateshead, delivering 1,228 more hotel rooms. During the same period, hotel occupancy – or the number of rooms filled – has remained strong, averaging at 73% compared to the national average of 69%. These figures demonstrate that despite a plethora of new accommodation demand from business and leisure visitors has continued to grow.

We also know that when major events take place here, such as the Great North Run, demand for hotel rooms really spikes. Just last month, the combination of CBBC Live on Gateshead Quays and Kings of Leon at St James’ Park filled 91% of all hotel rooms across NewcastleGateshead (from 29 - 31 May) – which is good news indeed for tourism businesses and the destination as a whole.

We market the destination to both domestic and international leisure and business visitors, with the primary purpose of delivering economic growth for the area.

The burgeoning hotel sector and robust occupancy levels are key indicators, demonstrating the strength of the tourism industry which is now worth an estimated £1.3bn to NewcastleGateshead and supports more than 18,000 jobs.

Annually we welcome 1.9 million overnight visitors, staying a total of 4.3 million nights. Whatever the reason for a trip here, these visitors demand both choice and quality.

As a destination we can now offer a strong range of accommodation from budget chains to boutique, independent hotels. New developments underway include Hampton by Hilton and Crowne Plaza, both international brands that make strategic investment decisions based on market intelligence. Locating their new hotels here is undoubtedly a major vote of confidence in NewcastleGateshead.

We believe, however, that there is a need for balance; there is a risk of oversupply should hotel developments continue apace in the years ahead. In most destinations the market will usually sort itself out.

Hotel development is largely cyclical and periods of strong hotel performance are often followed by a spate of new openings, after which development activity slows until the market has recovered and grown to support the additional hotel supply.

We work closely with many accommodation providers and whilst we support new investment and greater consumer choice, we equally recognise the commercial pressures on these businesses.

Looking ahead, we will continue to work in partnership to promote NewcastleGateshead and grow the leisure and business tourism market, helping to deliver more visitors to the destination, more business for the sector and more guests in to our hotels.

Next year will see St James’ Park host the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which will bring an influx of visitors from across the globe. It’s a great opportunity that we all need to grasp; I very much hope that hotels, new and old, will reap the benefits.

What do you think? Do you work in the hotel sector? Let us know in the comments below

See where Newcastle's city centre hotel growth is due to happen with our interactive map

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer