Hotel could boost tourism prospects

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THE CHIEF executive of Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce, Alan Mitchell, believes that additional quality hotel provision would be a significant boost to the area and in particular the leisure and tourism prospects for the county.

He stated: “It would also create opportunities to bring more conferences and conventions to the area, which would also be great for the economy.

“Angus Council and its key local partners, including the Chamber, are working hard to address this problem and the recent announcement of a major hotel development at Forbes of Kingennie is a very welcome step in the right direction.”

Discussion locally has turned to the Hotel Seaforth site which has lain untouched since the demolition rubble of the old hotel was removed about five years ago.

It is generally agreed that it is still the prime location in the central part of the town for a new hotel with all the attendant facilities such as function suites, conference rooms, bars and restaurants.

Depute Provost of Angus Councillor Alex King revealed that Angus Council has proactively investigated hotel provision in both Arbroath and throughout Angus over the past few years instructing the commission of two research surveys.

He stated: “In 2009 the council engaged consultants to first undertake an audit of all visitor accommodation in Angus and second in 2010, to assess the marketability of both vacant hotel sites and hotels which had ceased trading.

“The first study identified that Angus lacked hotel accommodation and that most hotels in Angus were small, less than 20 bedrooms. 

“The marketability study identified that the majority of the vacant sites and closed hotels in Angus, including Arbroath, were likely to be borderline in terms of commercial viability.

“Their limited size meant that were only likely to succeed where the accommodation element was secondary to a successful pub/restaurant/hospitality suite which was also popular with the local market.”

He continued: “To complement this exercise, over the past two years officers from Economic Development have met with representatives of two budget hotel chains to identify their criteria for investment.

“These meetings confirmed the findings of the study but also indicated that budget hotels tend to succeed only where they can expect high levels of business occupancy all year round.

“The council also surveyed the local business community in Arbroath to find out the scale of local business accommodation needs. Unfortunately the study returns were low and consequently the findings were inconclusive.

“The study did not provide the necessary evidence of the level of local business demand necessary to support a concerted marketing approach to attract a budget hotel.”

Councillor King concluded: “Current evidence suggests that the continuing poor performance of the national and European economies is impacting quite significantly on serviced accommodation such as hotels and that as a result self-catering is proving more popular – a sector of the accommodation market where Angus has enjoyed significant investment in recent years.

“Angus Council continues to keep the market for hotel accommodation under review and will help to investigate and support any development opportunities which arise as a result of private sector interest.”