A doubling of pre-tax profit in the first three months of 2004 has left hotel giant InterContinental feeling positive about the future of the industry.
The group, which saw its profit soar from £25m last year to £50m this year, said it was experiencing an encouraging recovery in both the UK and North America and was beginning to see tentative signs of recovery in Europe.
Chief executive Richard North said: "Whilst we are encouraged by the results this quarter, we continue to concentrate on improving business efficiency in order to unlock more potential and further enhance returns."
He added: "We are planning to concentrate our development efforts on countries, such as the USA, UK and China, where demographic trends and market characteristics will allow us to grow more successfully our franchise and management business."
The group cited cost-cutting measures and a strong performance from its Holiday Inn business in the UK and Ireland as reasons for the massive increase in profit.
Operating profit within the company's hotel business was up by almost 52% to £44m, against £29m a year earlier, with turnover rising by 2.1% to £348m.
InterContinental also said its asset disposal programme, announced in February, was progressing well and that it expected to place the next tranche of hotel assets, which have a value of more than £500m, on the market shortly.