Louth hoteliers hit by UK visitor slump
THE IRISH HOTELIERS FEDERATION REPORT FALL OFF IN UK TOURISM
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.