The majority of Irish hotels and guesthouses are reporting a continued fall in business levels from the UK this summer, according to the results of the latest quarterly barometer from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).
While business levels overall were up across the summer months, with seven in ten hoteliers seeing an increase compared to this time last year, most (69%) reported a fall in business from Great Britain with over half (54%) saying Northern Ireland business levels had dropped too.
The results of the industry barometer echo the latest CSO figures, which show that Brexit is already having a significant impact on Irish tourism. Visitor numbers from Britain have decreased by 7.1% for the first eight months, compared to the same period last year. The UK, Ireland’s largest source of inbound tourists, accounts for over 40% of all visitors, providing the widest regional and seasonal spread.
Strong performances by the US and domestic markets are helping to offset the fall-off in business from the UK. North America registered an increase of 17.9% for January – August 2017, while visits from Mainland Europe grew by 3.2% during the period.
Joe Dolan, President of the IHF, said the uncertainty around Brexit poses a real threat to the tourism industry, with regional tourism likely to be hit hardest. “Many of the consequences of Brexit are largely outside our control, so it is imperative that we mitigate the risks and potential damage where we can.”
Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross T.D., said: “These figures show that we cannot become complacent as the overall growth rate has slowed somewhat. My Department and the tourism agencies are working closely with the tourism industry to prepare effectively for an ever more competitive international tourism market. We are well aware that the strong performance overall this year is no guarantee that things will stay the same in 2018.”
Rising insurance costs continue to be a concern for hoteliers. Over half said they were having a very significant negative impact on their business. Insurance costs for the sector have now reached €42m this year, equivalent to approximately €730 per bedroom per year. Local authority rates and wages costs were also cited as having a serious detrimental effect on business.