Tourism Survives ‘Unprecedented Upheavals’

Tourism has witnessed unprecedented upheavals over the past three years with a number of challenges still remaining, IHF President Denyse Campbell said at the Annual Conference in Killarney.

She is pictured with CEO Tim Fenn.

“While we saw a welcome uplift in tourism activity during the last six months of 2022, significant uncertainty persists this year in relation to the global economy – particularly given the challenges we face around the cost of doing business, high levels of inflation, increasing interest rates and an ongoing cost-of-living crisis across key overseas markets,” she told delegates.

“A particular concern for hoteliers and the wider tourism industry is the outlook for bookings from Great Britain, given the very challenging economic environment this market is facing. Traditionally Ireland’s largest source of overseas visitors, Great Britain continues to face very significant economic headwinds, and this is having an impact on the outlook and levels of forward bookings. According to recent industry research carried out by the IHF, 60% of hoteliers report that forward bookings from Great Britain are still down on pre-Covid levels. The rest of Europe is also challenging while the prospects for North America are brighter this year.”

Denyse Campbell said that, since the lifting of restrictions in 2022, the industry has achieved a remarkable restoration in employment with over 250,000 livelihoods now supported by tourism businesses throughout the country, including 60,000 employed directly by Irish hotels and guesthouses.

Meanwhile 85% of hotels are planning to invest in refurbishment and additional capital expenditure over the coming year – making up for lost ground since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. She said that sustainability is a major focus for the sector with 67% of hotels planning to invest in sustainability initiatives this year, while a further 25% are actively exploring options for potential investment in this area. Key priorities include renewable energy and heating, energy efficiency, retrofitting of buildings, waste reduction and water conservation.