Monday, March 04 12:51:51
Some six out of 10 (61pc) hotels and guesthouses have expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of Irish tourism statistics provided by the Central Statistics Office, according to an industry survey carried out by the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).
Speaking on the eve of the Irish Hotels Federation's 75th Annual Conference, Michael Vaughan, President of the IHF, says that tourism businesses are frustrated at the lack of information and statistics available on the travel patterns of visitors to Ireland.
Mr Vaughan states that the absence of sufficiently detailed and robust data means Irish tourism is at a significant competitive disadvantage in not having the necessary tools to target its marketing efforts to best effect and learn from the mistakes of promotional activities that may not have worked. He warns that, without the relevant insights into what drives and shapes Irish tourism, this vital sector of the economy will not live up to its full potential as an engine of growth and job creation.
"Tourism marketing budgets are finite both for individual tourism businesses and for Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland, which have a combined annual budget of over E100 million," states Mr Vaughan. "We need to ensure all marketing resources are deployed as effectively as possible and delivering maximum return on investment. Not only would more detailed statistics - particularly on a regional level - provide stronger marketing insights, they would enable more strategic planning around product development and investment."
Mr Vaughan states that it is incredulous that a E6 billion sector of the Irish economy employing 11 per cent of total employment in the country does not have access to the required tools to adequately measure its performance on a national and regional basis.
"We've raised our concerns with the Government already but progress has been slow to date and really misses the bigger picture. Without the necessary resources and tools for proper planning, we will continue to lack the in-depth insights that would enable us to transform the way we market Ireland both at home and abroad. Until then we're feeling around in the dark to a large extent," says Mr Vaughan. "So for example, the final regional tourism figures for 2011 have only just become available to us and even these lack any detailed insights into the length of visitors' stay, their reasons for visiting certain parts of the country over others, the activities and events that attract them to Ireland and the quality of their holiday experience."