independent

Friday 20 September 2019

Tourism generated €61m in Wexford last year

Local Economic Indicators 2018
Local Economic Indicators 2018

Brendan Keane

The tourism industry generated €61m in revenue in Co Wexford last year according to an Economic Indicators report published by the Irish Business and Employers' Association (IBEC).

The report scored eight regions across the country including all 31 local authorities through 30 different 'indicators' in eight categories of competitiveness.

Not all of the indicators examined fall within the remit of local Government, however, according to IBEC the they 'provide an important window to the performance and impact of national policy on the ground.

The report revealed that overseas revenue from tourism was strongest along the coastal regions with Munster coming out strongest of all.

While there is still room for improvement Wexford was ranked in the top 10 counties in the country in terms of the number of hotel beds there are available - which currently stands at 4,183. The national average is 5,500 meaning Wexford was ranked 9th out of the 26 counties in the Republic.

According to the report accommodation capacity nationally represents a threat to tourism growth and IBEC says 11,000 new hotel beds will be required throughout Ireland by 2025.

Commercial rates are always a contentious issue among business people and in that regard the average rates bill for businesses in Wexford is €6,455 which ranks Wexford County Council at 20th out of the country's 31 local authorities.

However, that figure falls is still some way below the national average commercial rates bill per business which is €8,364.

Local businesses, not central Government, are the primary source of income for local Government in Ireland and as a result local authorities have a significant impact on business conditions and cost competitiveness in their locality through commercial rates and other charges.

It's estimated that business contributions will directly account for €1.51bn (35 per cent) of the country's total local Government budget this year.

After labour costs, the cost of the property from which a business operates is the second highest expense for any enterprise and commercial rates add to the overall cost of commercial and industrial property.

As a result, commercial rates have a significant impact on business conditions and cost competitiveness of companies and enterprises within the locality in which they operate.

According to IBEC rebalancing the burden of commercial rates would better support job creation and boost local employment in the area in which a business is located; it says this is particularly true for the likes of SMEs (small to medium sized enterprises).

The organisation also stressed in the report that local authorities have a responsibility for local economic development.

In terms of its population there are now 64 people per km² living in Wexford where the overall population is 149,722.

Of those 45.1 per cent are under the age of 35 which is below the national average of 47.1 per cent.

The percentage of people in the county over the age of 65 is 14.7 which is slightly higher than the national average (13.4 per cent).

Over the last decade there has been a 13.3 per cent change in the population which is a little over the national figure of 12.3 per cent.

The statistics for housing stock in the county show there are 68,206 units in the county at present which equates to a housing density of 29.2 per km² which is more-or-less in keeping with the national figure of 29.5 per km².

The average household size in the county, which is 2.73, is also very much in line with the national 2.75 average.

The news is also positive for people in the rental sector as the average monthly rent in Co Wexford is €631 which is a little below the national rent figure of €715.

House prices in Wexford are also lower than the national average; the mean house price in the county, at €145,501, is almost €100,000 lower than the countrywide figure of €238,820.

Unfortunately, the number of third level graduates emerging from the county is well below the national average with just 33.9 per cent graduating while the national figure is 43.3 per cent.

That meant Wexford local authority was ranked a lowly 26th out of 31.

The statistics in terms of the concentration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) graduates was even worse with just 4.1 per cent of people graduating in the sector meaning Wexford local authority was ranked 28th out of 31.

The national average is 7.1 per cent.

Access to broadband is something that is crucial for business but also for the benefit of people having the option of working from home.

The IBEC report indicated that 64.1 per cent of premises in Wexford have access to top quality, high speed broadband which is below the national figure (70.4 per cent) and the county is ranked 10th out of 26 in the Republic.

The average travel time to access a Tier 1 or Tier 2 port from Co Wexford - which is 24 minutes - is well below the national time of 67 minutes and accordingly Wexford local authority was ranked 7th out of 31 in this category.

Roads are always a controversial topic at election time and the Model county has 51 per cent of its roads surfaced with a rating of between 7 and 10 meaning the local authority's work on road surfaces has it ranked in 26th place out of the 31 local authorities surveyed.

The national figure is 66.5 per cent.

Employees in Wexford have the 12th longest commute time to work in the entire country although 65.5 per cent of people travel less than half-an-hour to their place of employment.

The national average for the amount of people per county who travel over an hour to work is 11.6 per cent but in Wexford the figure is slightly higher at 12.6 per cent meaning the local authority area was ranked 21 out of 31 in that category.

On the jobs front there is a lot of room for improvement.

The county has 502.4 IDA supported jobs per 10,000 people which is well below the national figure of 1,034.9 jobs resulting in the county being ranked 15th out of 26.

The number of Local Enterprise Office supported jobs (234.2 per 10,000 people) is also below the country's average of 184.3.

IBEC is Ireland's largest lobby group representing Irish businesses at home and abroad. Its members employ 70 per cent of the private sector workforce in Ireland and it has over 240 professional service staff in seven locations including Brussels.

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