As the 2019 tourism season comes to a close, the hotel sector is reporting a year of mixed performances, according to the results of the latest industry barometer from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).
The IHF found that just 35% of Irish hoteliers have a positive outlook for 2020 as the uncertainty over Brexit and the high cost of doing business take their toll and overseas visitor growth continues to slow down. The IHF noted that the latest figures from the CSO indicate that there was only a 1.5% increase in overseas visitors to Ireland during the first eleven months of 2019, which was down from a 5.5% increase for the eleven months to the end of November 2018.
While 48% of hoteliers reported an increase in business for the year, 44% reported a fall.
48% of hoteliers reported increases in the domestic market and 44% of hoteliers reported increases in the US market.
Meanwhile, seven in ten hoteliers saw a drop in business from Great Britain in 2019, and over half reported a fall in business levels from Northern Ireland.
IHF president Michael Lennon stated, “We continue to face high costs of doing business, which have been compounded by the government’s decision to increase the tourism VAT in last year’s Budget. The threat to businesses posed by escalating insurances costs is well-documented. Our members are also reporting significant pressure from rising local authority rates.
“The government has to do more to tackle the costs that are stifling businesses. Tourism is a highly-competitive business and these costs are making us less attractive as a destination. Decisive action is needed now to mitigate the impact this will have on tourism, especially the regions.
“Tourism supports over 270,000 jobs in every town and county, equivalent to 11% of total employment in Ireland. With 70% of these jobs outside Dublin, it is a major contributor to rural economies, and regional tourism is most likely to be hardest hit by Brexit and falls in visitor numbers.”
Hoteliers also reported that recruitment in the sector remains challenging. With one in five hotels reportedly planning to increase staffing levels over the next 12 months, Lennon has welcomed the changes to the employment permits system for workers outside the EU announced last month by the minister for business, enterprise and innovation, Heather Humphreys.
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