Hotel and guesthouse owners across the country have called on candidates in the general election to commit to decisive action in support of the continued growth of Irish tourism.
Michael Lennon, President of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) said that, while tourism had returned to growth in recent years, the recovery has not been evenly spread across the country. Citing the CSO’s overseas visitor numbers for 2019, he warned that continued growth cannot be taken for granted with regional tourism most likely to be negatively affected. The figures show a significant fall off in growth with an increase of just 1.8% in 2019, as against 6.9% in 2018 compared to the previous year.
Commenting on the launch of the IHF’s national tourism policy document for the general election – A Strategy for Job Creation and Economic Growth – Mr Lennon said that tourism has been one of the success stories of the economy in recent years, supporting over 260,000 jobs in every town and county and generating €2bn in taxes for the exchequer each year.
“However, our industry now faces heightened uncertainty and remains vulnerable to external shocks, given our exposure to the economic environment of our major sourced markets, as Brexit clearly demonstrated. Decisive action is needed now to ensure our industry lives up to its full potential as a major engine for growth and job creation across the entire country over the next five years.”
The IHF’s five-point plan calls on the next Government to support tourism by addressing a number of key challenges, including:
- Tackling the high cost of doing business
- More supports for regional tourism
- Increased tourism marketing support
- Additional investment in tourism product and infrastructure
- Investment in people, skills and training
Mr Lennon highlighted the high cost of doing business in Ireland, particularly around insurance and Government controlled costs such as local authority rates, water and energy levies. He also called for greater supports for regional tourism to counter the impact of Brexit. Significant additional investment is also required to support tourism marketing and product development.