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Andersen: Sentiment towards industry outlook in Europe shifts dramatically

The 29th European Hotel Manager`s Association EHMA<.> annual congress was recently held in Amsterdam…

The 29th European Hotel Manager`s Association EHMA<.> annual congress was recently held in Amsterdam. Andersen<.> took the opportunity to poll the audience on their views as to the outlook for the industry. This revealed that a significant shift in sentiment has occurred since the gloomy days following September 11.

A similar poll held at the 13th Annual European Hotel Investment conference in London in November was unsurprisingly much more negative. Six months on, the industry can congratulate itself for prompt action and an innovative approach to coping with the crisis.

Participants at the annual EHMA congress were asked how they rated the prospects for the performance of the provincial hotel market in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. The audience overwhelmingly indicated that they believed the outlook to be more positive than their counterparts in November.

The Mediterranean markets of Italy and Spain were where delegates were most upbeat, with on average 60 percent of delegates believing that these markets should improve during 2002. This compares with 35 percent and 45 percent of delegates, respectively, in November.

Julia Felton, director of Andersen`s London based Global Hospitality Knowledge Services Team and responsible for the Andersen Hotel Industry Benchmark Survey, commented that the Mediterranean countries of Italy and Spain were the industry`s real winners during 2001 with many cities, and in particular the resort markets, reporting positive revPAR (revenue per available room) growth. We see no real reason for this trend not to continue.

Felton added fear of flying and the desire to holiday in perceived `safer` destinations closer to home may actually benefit these destinations disproportionately during 2002.

The biggest change in sentiment was related to the prospects for the German hotel industry. In November, 85 percent of survey participants believed this market would decline during 2002, whereas in February just 18 percent of survey participants believed this would be the case. With the German economy under pressure and GDP estimates for 2001 at just 0.7 percent, there is a real danger that German consumers may well curtail their travel plans during 2002. With Germany being one of the largest outbound markets in the world, the fact that consumers may opt to holiday at home could conversely stimulate demand at home during these tough times.

Felton concluded, We are delighted that the industry`s outlook for 2002 is increasingly positive. Following events of September 11, Andersen suggested the decline should begin to decelerate in November and expressed a view of cautious optimism for 2002. Whilst 2002 will certainly remain a year of some uncertainty, we reiterate our views that the outlook continues to improve and we anticipate further mergers and acquisition activity.