Wednesday 13 December 2017

Hotels enjoy increase in business despite fewer UK visitors

Joe Dolan, president of the Irish Hotels Federation
Joe Dolan, president of the Irish Hotels Federation
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Irish hotels and guest houses have seen business improve in the first six months of this year, despite a majority reporting a fall in UK visitors on foot of the Brexit vote.

More than three-quarters of hoteliers are reporting increased levels of business, according to the latest quarterly barometer from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).

More than 70pc are also seeing a lift in domestic visits, or so-called staycations, the IHF said.

"Visitor numbers are up, which is good news, and the growth in domestic tourism is particularly encouraging as it extends beyond the traditional tourism hot spots and its impact on local economies can be felt more widely. However, the latest CSO figures show a continued fall in UK visitors, our biggest market, which illustrates the fragility of the tourism recovery," IHF president Joe Dolan said.

Almost six-in-10 hoteliers are noting a decrease in visitor numbers from Britain, with 9pc seeing an increase and 34pc no change. Conversely, more than 52pc are reporting a lift in advance bookings from the US, with 35pc seeing a lift from Germany and 27pc from France.

That trend holds for domestic tourism also, with 59pc saying advance bookings for staycations are up.

"The general outlook for the rest of the year appears positive overall and Ireland looks on course to surpass the 8.8 million overseas visits set last year," the IHF said.

The report also shows significant investment is planned in the sector, with 91pc of hotels and guest houses indicating that they intend to invest in refurbishment and increase capital expenditure in the next year. One in five plans to expand their existing premises.

Mr Dolan called for continued investment in marketing and product development, saying 91pc believed more needed to be done in terms of regional marketing.

"Enormous strides have already been made in the development of our products and brands, including the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland's Ancient East and Dublin - A Breath of Fresh Air, for example. However, there are many rural areas that are just beginning to feel the tourism recovery...nine out of 10 hoteliers believe more needs to be done in terms of regional marketing in particular," he said.

Irish Independent

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