The UK is Ireland’s largest source of inbound tourists, accounting for over 40 per cent of overseas visitors into the country. The economic uncertainty surrounding the UK’s relationship with the EU has fuelled concerns amongst 95 per cent of hoteliers nationally, highlighting the ongoing risks to Waterford tourism from external events.
While concerns about the impact of Brexit loom, results show the tourism industry has performed strongly so far this year
Some nine of 10 hoteliers (90 per cent) report that business levels are up compared to the same period last year with overseas visitor numbers up 14 per cent (year to date) while British visitor numbers are up 16 per cent.
Of those hotels catering for corporate meetings and business events, 60 per cent are seeing an increase in this area of their business compared with last year.
market, which accounts for the majority of business for many premises.
Aidan Quirke, Chair of the IHF’s South East Branch said that tourism now supports 5,400 jobs in Waterford and contributes some €100m to the local economy annually.
But he warned that the continued recovery in the sector cannot be taken for granted and that the local tourism industry remained vulnerable to external economic shocks beyond its control, such as the UK decision to leave the EU.
“The concerns expressed by Waterford hoteliers following the UK’s referendum result reflect the significant risks posed to the sector, with many hotels and guesthouses still in recovery mode,” he said.
“This comes at a time when the increasing cost of doing business in Ireland already poses a serious challenge for tourism businesses. While it is too early to predict the full effect that the decision will have on Waterford tourism, there can be no room for complacency, particularly given the potential impact on visitor numbers from the UK and business levels within the domestic market.”
Mr Quirke acknowledged the “significant strides” being made in developing Ireland’s tourism product, including Ireland’s Ancient East, which takes in taking in local attractions such as the Viking Triangle.
“Increased investment in product development and marketing is vital to the long-term success of our tourism product,” he said.
“Time and time again, Irish tourism has shown itself to be an excellent investment with every euro spent in destination marketing by the state resulting in €34 being spent by visitors in the country. Now is not the time to take this investment for granted, particularly given the uncertainty around Brexit and the potential impact on visitor numbers to Waterford from the UK.”