Wexford hotels upbeat going into the new year

By David tucker

Published 29/12/2015 | 00:00

Following a year of strong tourism growth, hotels and guesthouses in Wexford are upbeat going into 2016, according to the latest quarterly barometer from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).

Local hoteliers have benefitted from a 13 per cent increase in overseas visitors to Ireland over the last 12 months, including significant growth in key markets such as North America (visitors up 13 per cent), Britain (up 11 per cent) and the rest of Europe (up 14 per cent).

Some 92 per cent of hotels and guesthouses now report a positive outlook for the next 12 months, with 90 per cent saying business levels are up on last year. Domestic tourism and hospitality business is also performing well, although from a low base following years of subdued consumer confidence.

Tourism now supports 9,000 jobs in Wexford and contributes some €170m to the local economy annually.

A totl of 85 per cent of hoteliers report increased business this year from the home market, with people taking more trips at home and spending more money in the local economy. This is important for the sector given demand from the island of Ireland accounts for the majority of all hotel bednights (69%).

Aidan Quirke, Chair of the South East Branch of the IHF said that confidence among hoteliers continues to improve as the recovery in tourism strengthens. This has been supported by marketing campaigns targeting key overseas markets and a number of pro-tourism initiatives by the Government such as the 9 per cent VAT rate and the zero rate travel tax. He cautions however, that issues around cost competitiveness need to be addressed and that the increasing cost of doing business in Ireland poses a serious challenge to tourism as the recovery in the economy takes hold.

The upturn is contributing to significant jobs growth with 64 per cent of hotels and guesthouses having increased staffing levels this year and 57 per cent planning to take on further staff over the next 12 months. This builds on the 33,000 new jobs created by Irish tourism and hospitality businesses since 2011 - accounting for more than one of every three new jobs in Ireland over this period. Nationally, tourism supports over 205,000 jobs, with demand for an additional 40,000 forecast over by the end of the decade. The improved outlook for the tourism and hospitality sector means that hotel and guesthouse owners across the country are now in a stronger position to invest in their business, with results showing that 92 per cent 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.

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