Ciaran O’Neill, President of the NI Hotels Federation, and Sarah Duignan, Director of Client Relationships at STR, met key players from Northern Ireland’s tourism industry at Bishop’s Gate Hotel in Derry on January 26th to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the sector. Following a slow start, many hotels reported record trading during the summer months of 2016, with the trend extending well into autumn. Overall, this resulted in conservative growth in terms of occupancy and room rate. The annual figures show hotel occupancy in Northern Ireland growing by 2.8%, with room rates increasing by 7.5%. The volume of hotel expansion that has taken place is one of the most significant aspects of the industry in Northern Ireland 2016, and over 20 projects are likely to open in by 2018, adding an additional 2,000 rooms to the region’s hotel bed-stock.