IHF: Wexford hotels will face a challenging 2020
Hotels and guesthouses in Wexford and other areas of the country recorded mixed performances in 2019 and will face further challenges in the New Year, according to the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).
In a recent IHF industry barometer only 35 per cent of businesses reported having a positive outlook for 2020.
Uncertainty over Brexit and the high cost of doing business were attributed as having an adverse affect on business while a decrease in UK visitors and a slowdown in overseas visitors were other negative factors recorded in the barometer.
According to the latest CSO (Central Statistics Office) figures to the end of November there was a 1.5 per cent increase in overseas visitors which is down significantly on the 5.5 per cent increase for the 11 month period to the end of November, 2018.
The overall mixed performance was underlined by the fact that 48 per cent of hoteliers reported an increase in business for the year with slightly fewer reporting a fall.
The Chairperson of the South East branch of the IHF, Colm Neville, from Enniscorthy, said the Government needs to do more to assist businesses operating in the tourism sector.
He said the ongoing challenges faced by those operating within the sector were compounded by the Government's decision to increase the tourism VAT in last year's budget.
Mr Neville also commented that the threat to business from escalating insurance costs is also 'well documented'.
He said rising local authority rates is another factor that needs to be addressed.
'Irish tourism has been one of the great success stories of the economy in recent years, supporting 270,000 jobs and promoting balanced regional growth across the country,' said Mr Neville.
However, he also commented: '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.'
Significantly, 70 per cent of the jobs created within the tourism industry are outside Dublin and Mr Neville said the sector is a 'major contributor to rural economies'.
'Here in Wexford it supports 9,300 jobs and contributes €227m to the local economy annually,' he said.
However, regional tourism is also most likely to be hardest hit by Brexit.
There are some positive signs, with one-in-five hotels planning to increase staffing levels over the next 12 months.
Mr Neville also welcomed changes announced last week to the employment permit system for workers from outside the EU.
The Christmas period was a positive time for the industry with over a third of hotels nationally reporting an increase in business throughout the festive season compared to 2018.
The IHF barometer was based on responses from owners and general managers of hotels and guesthouses nationwide.