Brian Harrington, Chair of the Shannon branch of the IHF
A NEW industry survey has shown that a majority of Limerick hoteliers are seeing an upturn in business.
70% of hotel and guesthouse owners in Limerick say business is up compared to the same time last year, with increases in staycations and visitors from overseas markets including North America and continental Europe.
As a result a good summer is forecast for the sector, according to the results of the latest industry survey undertaken by the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).
However, Brian Harrington, Chair of the Shannon branch of the IHF, warned that although the outlook is encouraging there is little room for complacency.
“Despite the upturn, not every tourism business is enjoying the same level of success and the hotel sector is still a number of years away from achieving sustainability in certain regional areas,” he said.
Nationally, almost half – 49% – of hoteliers are seeing a drop in UK business while one in five say their advance bookings for the rest of the summer are down compared to last year.
According to the IHF survey, the domestic market remains buoyant with many – 60% –hoteliers seeing an increase in home-grown business compared to this time last year.
In terms of overseas visitors, six in ten hoteliers say business levels from the US are up while four in ten are seeing an increase from Germany. Although the fall in UK visitors appears to have tapered off for now, after the significant fall in 2017 (down 5% year on year), only one in five (18%) hoteliers are seeing an increase.
With so many still experiencing a drop off in business, Mr Harrington says the UK market continues to be a significant concern.
But employment growth is set to continue in 2018 and Mr Harrington said the tourism industry is on track to creating 40,000 new jobs by 2021.
“Almost half of hoteliers (47%) expect to increase their staffing levels over the next year with opportunities available across all areas of business, from entry-level positions to jobs for experienced staff,” he said.
The improving business levels that the sector is seeing has also given hoteliers increased confidence.
“It is enabling hotels to invest more extensively in their businesses this year – from refurbishment to expansion, as well as investing in new facilities, services, employment and marketing – which feeds out into the wider economy,” said Mr Harrington.
He noted that hotels too were also looking for ways to improve guests’ experiences, beyond investing in infrastructure.
“Increasingly guests want to holiday in destinations where they can really get to know the area in which they are staying. We are very fortunate as our rich tradition in the arts, history, music and sport across Limerick provides ample scope to offer immersive experiences,” he said, noting that the survey showed that the majority of hotels (80%) have plans to showcase and promote local produce, businesses and artists during 2018.