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Business up at hotels and guesthouses

Almost 90pc of Irish hotels and guest-houses have seen increased business in 2014, according to a new survey by the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).

Nine in ten respondents to the IHF survey also said they are positive about the outlook for 2015.

But the IHF said that despite an increase in confidence levels, the hotels sector continues to operate from a low revenue base. More than two in five hoteliers say they remain concerned about the viability of their business in the short term, but see improvement down the road.

In addition, the growth hasn't been spread equally across the country.

IHF chief executive Tim Fenn told the Herald that the recovery "starts between the canals in Dublin".

"Outside the canals it wouldn't be as strong, and then around the country you would have maybe a second tier that would include Cork, Galway, Killarney, Westport and Kilkenny.

"When you go outside those hotspots, you're then into middle Ireland...what you have is people competing for the domestic euro."

Mr Fenn said it's important for Ireland to maintain spending on international marketing and remain competitive.

"Ireland is an island off the north-west coast of Europe. We have to fight for every single visitor we get here," he said.

The survey shows two thirds of hotels and guesthouses took on additional staff in 2014. Overseas visitor numbers rose by more than 8pc in the year to the end of November, according to newly released figures from the Central Statistics Office.

The cost of doing business in Ireland remains a major challenge, however, with hoteliers citing excessive local authority rates as the single most pressing issue.