Louth hote­liers hit by UK vis­i­tor slump

THE IR­ISH HOTE­LIERS FED­ER­A­TION RE­PORT FALL OFF IN UK TOURISM

Drogheda Independent - - NEWS - By OLIVIA RYAN

HOTE­LIERS and guest­house own­ers in Louth are re­port­ing a con­tin­ued fall in busi­ness lev­els from the UK this sum­mer ac­cord­ing to the lat­est re­port from the Ir­ish Ho­tels Fed­er­a­tion (IHF).

While busi­ness lev­els over­all were up na­tion­ally across the sum­mer months, with seven in ten hote­liers (71%) 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.

Martin Daly, IHF Louth branch chair, says 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.

He added: ‘We are call­ing on the gov­ern­ment to take the nec­es­sary steps to pro­tect Ir­ish tourism and to avoid any changes in pol­icy that would weaken our sec­tor’s abil­ity to deal with the risks it faces due to Brexit. The 9% VAT rate for tourism, in par­tic­u­lar, con­tin­ues to de­liver enor­mous ben­e­fits to the ex­che­quer by mak­ing us more at­trac­tive as a tourism des­ti­na­tion,’ he said.

Mr Daly said: ‘ The over­all rate of tourism growth is also con­tin­u­ing to slow­down, which is wor­ry­ing.

The cuts to mar­ket­ing fund­ing and de­vel­op­ment in the re­ces­sion­ary years should also be re­versed ur­gently so we can en­tice more vis­i­tors from new and ex­ist­ing mar­kets and par­tic­u­larly to the re­gions and ar­eas out­side the tra­di­tional tourism hot spots. Time and time again, Ir­ish tourism has shown it­self to be an ex­cel­lent in­vest­ment for ev­ery euro spent in des­ti­na­tion mar­ket­ing,’ he added.

Tourism cur­rently sup­ports 2,600 jobs in Louth and con­trib­utes some €56m to the lo­cal econ­omy an­nu­ally.

The lat­est IHF re­port in­di­cated that while the gen­eral out­look for the in­dus­try over the next 12 months re­mains pos­i­tive, hote­liers’ op­ti­mism has been dented. Most say the weak­ened value of ster­ling is al­ready af­fect­ing their busi­ness and there is lit­tle sign of that chang­ing in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture.

The re­port also showed that 64% of hote­liers plan to in­crease their own mar­ket­ing spend as they in­crease their ef­forts to grow their busi­ness both at home and abroad in re­sponse to de­clin­ing UK vis­i­tors.

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