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Eight out of ten hoteliers don’t plan to take on staff despite recovery in tourism

MORE than eight in ten hoteliers have no plans to take on any more staff this year despite a recovery in tourism, a survey shows.

Around the same number said they were worried about whether their business would survive, while more than nine in ten reported being under "significant stress" coping with the economic downturn.

The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) poll, ahead of its annual conference in Kilkenny today, showed most were unhappy about wage costs, local authority rates and utility costs.

Tim Fenn, chief executive of the IHF, claimed hoteliers' reluctance to take on new staff was because wage costs were the third highest in Europe.

"The hotels sector has enormous untapped potential for job creation," he said.

"But this will only be achieved if the Government works closely with our industry to drive down costs and promote competitiveness."

Nearly half (46pc) of hoteliers said their business was up since the same time last year.

Official figures out last week showed nearly 1.2 million trips were made to Ireland between last November and January - a rise of 22,800 or 1.9pc on the same time the previous year.

But the IHF survey also found more than a third (37pc) of respondents reported a decline in their trade, particularly outside Dublin, in the West, Midlands, and Southeast.

Like other businesses in Ireland, hoteliers also complained about access to credit from banks. The IHF survey was based on responses from 150 hotel and guesthouse owners and general managers across the country during the last week in February.