Leitrim benefits from staycations
Hotels and guesthouses owners in Leitrim and across the country have seen an increase in business levels during the first six months of 2017 according to the latest quarterly barometer from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).
As the latest CSO figures show overseas visitors up over 3% to the end of May, the industry survey shows that the domestic market is increasing also with seven in ten (71%) hoteliers nationally saying business levels are up compared to this time last year. Overall, three quarters (76%) of hoteliers are reporting increased levels in business year on year.
The strong performance for domestic tourism looks set to continue into the busy summer season. Over two thirds (68%) of hoteliers say bookings are up while six in ten (59%) report that advance bookings for staycations for the remainder of 2017 are up too. The general outlook for the rest of the year appears positive overall and Ireland looks on course to surpass the 8.8 million overseas visits set last year. More than half of hoteliers (52%) report increases in advance bookings from the United States, 35% for Germany and 27% for France.
Fergal Ryan, Chair of the Leitrim Branch of the Irish Hotels Federation warned that Brexit is already impacting on tourism performance. “Visitor numbers are up, which is good news and the growth in domestic tourism is particularly encouraging as it extends beyond the traditional tourism hot spots and its impact on local economies can be felt more widely. However, the latest CSO figures show a continued fall in UK visitors, our biggest market nationally, which illustrates the fragility of the tourism recovery.”
“We must also continue to invest in product development and marketing. Enormous strides have already been made in the development of our products and brands including the Wild Atlantic Way for example. However, the recovery has not been felt to the same extent throughout the county. The UK market in particular provides the widest spread of visitors across Ireland and the broadest seasonality. Nine out of ten (91%) hoteliers nationally believe more needs to be done in terms of regional marketing in particular. Time and time again, Irish tourism has shown itself to be an excellent investment with every euro spent in destination marketing by the state resulting in €34 being spent by visitors in the country.”
Meanwhile, the latest IHF barometer also has good news for Leitrim school leavers and those seeking a career in the hospitality sector. Some 50,000 new jobs have been created nationally in tourism since 2011 and the industry is on track to create a further 40,000 jobs nationally by 2021. According to the latest barometer three in five (61%) hoteliers have recruited new staff over the past 12 months and nearly three in ten (29%) are planning to increase staff numbers over the next 12 months. Leitrim said that the industry is looking to recruit over 6,000 entry-level employees nationally each year across all areas of its operations. The tourism industry now supports approximately 230,000 jobs - equivalent to 11% of total employment in Ireland.