In the 1990s UK residents made in most years more than 100 million overnight trips, with well over 400 million nights away from home. Overseas visitors increased from 18 million in 1990 to 26 million by the end of the decade and their nights in the country from less than 200 to more than 220 million. Hotels were significant providers of accommodation for both UK residents and overseas visitors.
The total number of hotels has been variously estimated at more than 60 000, but in the absence of compulsory registration, less than half of the total are registered with a tourist board – around 19 000 in England, 2 500 in Scotland, 1 400 in Wales, with a total capacity of some 900 000 beds. About 4 500 hotels are inspected by the motoring organizations.
The industry turnover increased at current prices throughout the 1990s, from more than £6 billion in 1990 to around £10 billion by the end of the decade. Following major growth in employment in the 1980s when the industry created more than 50 000 new jobs, in the 1990s employees in employment (excluding self-employed) approached 300 000.
After its emergence from the recession of the early 1990s, much of the hotel industry experienced one of the most sustained periods of growth in its history, when it benefited from strong demand, high occupancies and increasing profitability. This performance stimulated a major investment programme, reflected both in the expansion of UK companies abroad and in foreign investment in the UK. UK companies own three of the most important global hotel brands – Hilton International, Holiday Inn and Inter-Continental Hotels and Resorts.
AS we go to print, at the end of the decade and of the century, the UK hotel industry faces with cautious optimism the millennium year.