5,000 hotel jobs 'on the line'
A LEADING hotelier has warned that up to 5,000 jobs will be lost in the industry unless the decline in tourism figures is aggressively reversed.
Speaking at a tourism briefing in Limerick last Thursday, Michael Vaughan, of Vaughan's Lodge Hotel in Lahinch, Co Clare, warned that if the plummeting figures were not addressed the country's hotel industry has no future.
A fourth generation hotelier, Mr Vaughan serves as chairman of the Shannon region of the Irish Hotels Federation.
Last year, an estimated 5.6 million visitors arrived to the country. In 2008, the country welcomed 6.5 million tourists. Of last year's arrivals, 2.7 million came from the UK, compared to the four million who made the trip in 2007.
Of the country's 1,000 hotels, Mr Vaughan said 15,000 rooms would have to go from the total figure of 60,000 as the industry could no longer sustain it. He predicted there would be 5,000 job losses as a result.
"There will have to be job losses -- absolutely. We lost 30 per cent of our major market, Britain. The academics will tell you when you lose a major market like Britain, it is not guaranteed at all that you will get even half of it back," he said. "Having said that, if we could reach a target of 6.5 million visitors a year into the country, which was the 2008 figure, we could reduce the closure of rooms by 50 per cent."
Mr Vaughan said there was a "huge duplication" of resources among tourist bodies. "It has to end. We need one national tourism body that will promote and do the business for tourism interests and end this confusion," he said.
Mr Vaughan added the amalgamation of Tourism Ireland and Failte Ireland has to be the first item on the agenda of the new Tourism Minister.