WITH the St Patrick’s Day festivities under way this weekend, the tourism season clicks into gear and hotels and guesthouse owners are hoping for another record year with some optimism, albeit tinged with caution. The optimism is based on an industry survey undertaken by the Irish Hotels Federation in which accommodation providers reported a good start to the year, with 74% of hoteliers and 48% of guesthouse owners saying business was up in the first two months of this year compared with the same period last year.
They also reported an increase in advance bookings for this year. However, their optimism is tempered somewhat by the inevitable effects that the expected triggering later this month of talks to start the process of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union will have on the industry, especially in the case of UK visitors. Since the Brexit referendum was carried last year, the value of sterling has fallen sharply against the euro, so there’s not the same value for money for be had in the euro zone for British holidaymakers.
Britain is our biggest overseas tourism market and already some hoteliers are reporting a drop in business and bookings from there and, while this is being compensated for by increases from other markets, nothing can be taken for granted with so much uncertainty politically internationally. In West Cork, it is hoped that the direct flights between Cork and Providence, Rhode Island, will bring more American visitors into the area after they commence on July 1st next and that the buoyancy of the domestic market of recent years is maintained.
Tourism is a vital component of the local economy and the industry can never rest on its laurels, with ongoing product development and marketing crucial to continued success.