Hoteliers are just about hold-ing their own, according to a new survey.

The hotel industry in the West Midlands saw average room rate and revenue per available room (revPAR) for 2005 up on the previous year.

The HotelBenchmark Survey by accountants Deloitte found that average room rates for hotels in the region rose by two per cent, from £61.61 to £62.87, and revPAR by 1.8 per cent, from £41.97 to £42.73.

And despite the downturn in consumer spending and the challenging market conditions faced by hoteliers in the region, occupancy figures for 2005 remained stable at around 68 per cent.

However, when comparing the monthly results for December against the results from the same period in 2004, the picture is not so positive.

Occupancy rates in December fell by 1.6 per cent, from 60.2 per cent to 59.2 per cent. However average room rate for December increased by 3.6 per cent from £59.14 to £61.28, and revPAR also rose from £35.58 to £36.26. In Birmingham, revPAR increased by 2.5 per cent from £45.54 to £46.66 - higher than the regional UK average of £46.04.

Average room rates in Birmingham during 2005 also rose slightly from £66.19 to £67.95, an increase of 2.7 per cent.

Alistair Pritchard, director in Deloitte's tourism, hospitality and leisure group in Birmingham, said: "Overall the region's hotel industry has performed well, particularly when you consider the tough economic conditions faced by the market during the course of the year.

"The fall in consumer spending and rising debt levels didn't have as big an impact on the industry as many first thought, with hoteliers, particularly those in the West Midlands and Birmingham, still able to attract customers into their hotels."

Mr Pritchard expects the opening of Birmingham's newest hotel, the Radisson, which boasts the city's most expensive room at £700 a night, to have an impact.

"Birmingham has been able to offer the more discerning hotel guest a limited choice in recent years, but the Radisson brings a further quality destination to the market. It will be interesting to see what impact the opening of the hotel will have on the results of the survey when they are next published."

The profitability of chain hotels in the UK increased more slowly than the overall rise in sales during 2005, according to a separate report f rom TRI Hospitality Consulting.

Its Hotstats survey found total revenue per available room rose by 3.6 per cent but total profit per available room increased by just 2.3 per cent.

While sales have indeed been rising, so too have costs, leaving less to drop to the bottom line. The survey stated: "The problem was particularly acute in the provinces. Here, total revpar was up three per cent but total profit per available room was down 0.3 per cent.

"In London, profitability was much stronger. Total profit per available room was up 6.2 per cent, a faster rise than for total revpar which was up 4.9 per cent."

TRI said the provincial profit performance was "disappointing".

And, as with the Deloitte assessment, December was poor in the regions.

There was an 11 per cent profit drop for the month compared to 2004 despite room revpar rising 4.8 per cent - although total revpar dropped 2.1 per cent.

Jonathan Langston, managing director of TRI Hospitality Consulting, said: "Provincial hoteliers have struggled to tame rising costs. Despite a decent set of sales figures, profit has gone backwards during the year."