THE next government has been warned that decisive action is needed so the hospitality industry can live up to its potential for growth over the next five years.
Neil Grant, chair of the Cork branch of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) and manager of the Celtic Ross Hotel 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.
Mr Grant said that tourism has been one of the great success stories of the economy in recent years, supporting over 260,000 jobs in every town and county, including 25,300 in Cork, contributing some €895m to the local economy annually.
‘However, our industry now faces heightened uncertainty and remains vulnerable to external shocks, given our exposure to the economic environment of our major source 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 and investment in people, skills and training.