Irish hotels and guesthouses have seen an increase in business levels during the first six months of 2017, according to the latest quarterly barometer from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).
The survey is based on responses from owners and general managers of hotel and guesthouses businesses across the country and was conducted at the end of June 2017.
Over two thirds (68%) of hoteliers say bookings are up while six in ten (59%) report that advance bookings for staycations for the remainder of 2017 are up too. The general outlook for the rest of the year appears positive overall and Ireland looks on course to surpass the 8.8 million overseas visits set last year. More than half of hoteliers (52%) report increases in advance bookings from the United States, 35% for Germany and 27% for France.
The industry survey shows that the domestic market is increasing with seven in ten (71%) hoteliers saying business levels are up compared to this time last year. Overall, three quarters (76%) of hoteliers are reporting increased levels in business year on year.
Some 50,000 new jobs have been created in tourism since 2011 and the industry is on track to create a further 40,000 jobs nationally by 2021. According to the latest barometer, three in five (61%) hoteliers have recruited new staff over the past 12 months and nearly three in ten (29%) are planning to increase staff numbers over the next 12 months.
IHF President, Joe Dolan says that the industry is looking to recruit over 6,000 entry-level employees each year across all areas of its operations. The tourism industry now supports approximately 230,000 jobs - equivalent to 11% of total employment in Ireland.
The survey shows that increased confidence is allowing hoteliers to invest more freely in their businesses with almost all hotel and guesthouses (91%) indicating that they intend to invest in refurbishment and increased capital expenditure within the next year. Most (94%) of these are planning refurbishment projects while over a third (37%) intend to invest in new technology for the properties. One in five (20%) plan to expand their existing premises.
According to the report, insurance remains a pressing issue for all hoteliers. Over half (51%) report that rising costs are having a very significant impact on their businesses. Insurance costs for the sector have now reached €42 million this year, equivalent to approximately €730 per bedroom per year.
Mr Dolan has welcomed the commitment of the Government and the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Innovation Frances Fitzgerald to address the "spiralling" cost of insurance. However, he said that compensation pay-outs are not benchmarked internationally with the result that Irish compensation levels for injuries continue to be out of kilter when compared with other countries.
Speaking today, Mr Dolan said, "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 do have some control over our destiny. Continued growth remains a priority for the sector, which is the country’s largest indigenous employer."
He added, "It is achievable but it requires specific actions. Ireland’s competitive tourism offering will certainly help and this is underpinned by important measures as the zero rate travel tax and the 9% tourism VAT rate which brings us into line with other countries in Europe."