Hoteliers report positive start to 2016

Business, Economy | Mon 29 Feb | Author – Business & Finance
Marker hotel William Murphy
Marker Hotel, Dublin

The vast majority of Irish hoteliers are upbeat about the prospects for the tourism industry in 2016 according to an industry survey undertaken by the Irish Hotels Federation.

With overseas visitor numbers to Ireland on track for a record-breaking year, overall confidence levels among hoteliers are at a near all-time high.

Some 92% of respondents indicate a positive outlook for trading conditions for their business over the next 12 months.

Nationally, 82% of hoteliers are seeing an increase in business levels compared to this time last year – building on increases in business levels across the sector over the previous two years.

Advance bookings for the remainder of the year are also performing strongly, with 80% of premises reporting an increase on 2015 levels. Of those hotels catering for corporate meetings and business events, 64% are seeing an increase in this area of their business compared with last year.

The upturn in tourism is directly feeding into increased confidence on the ground with hotel and guesthouse owners now in a stronger position to invest in their businesses.

Results of the survey show that 93% of hoteliers are planning to invest in refurbishment and product development over the next 12 months while 62% are planning to increase their investment in marketing.

The recovery has also been boosted by a range of pro-tourism initiatives such as the 9% VAT rate, the zero rate air passenger tax and support for improved air access and connectivity.

Challenges highlighted by the survey include the high cost of doing business in Ireland with hoteliers citing excessive local authority rates as the single most pressing issue stifling cost competitiveness within the sector. This is followed by high labour costs, rising insurance premiums, utility costs and subdued consumer confidence.

Stephen McNally, president, Irish Hotels Federation, said: “Irish tourism has achieved strong growth over the last three years and the benefits of this are now spreading throughout the entire country. We’re seeing an upturn across most rural areas, providing a welcome boost to local economies in terms of jobs and tourism revenues.

“We’re off to a very positive start this year, building on the gains achieved in 2015 which saw more than 8.5 million overseas visits to our shores. It’s shaping up to be another record-breaking year in terms of visitor numbers, which is a great achievement and a clear sign of how far we’ve come since the downturn. It’s a testament to the hard work of the thousands of tourism businesses throughout the country which are the backbone of our industry.”

Photo: William Murphy