IHF welcomes 700 stakeholders to Lyrath in Kilkenny

  • 72pc average national room occupancy rate in 2016 (up from 70pc in 2015)
  • 8.8*m visits, overall trips to Ireland were up 9.6p)
  • €8.25bn in revenue generated by Irish tourism in 2016
  • 13,000 new jobs created in 2016 in tourism & hospitality

The IHF conference in Kilkenny will host  700 stakeholders including hoteliers, suppliers and statutory bodies.

Tuesday’s gala dinner will see 400 seated guests as the inner of the prestigious presidents award is announced.

The average national room occupancy rate for Irish hotels and guesthouses was 72pc in 2016 – the highest level over the past 11 years, driven largely by a record year for overseas visitor numbers.

Total revenue generated across all tourism-related businesses in 2016 was up 7.1pc at €8.25bn and accounted for 4pc GNP. Of this, €6.49bn was attributed to foreign exchange earnings from overseas visitors (up 8.6pc on 2015) and €1.76bn to home-grown tourism (up 2pc on 2015).

Speaking before the Irish Hotels Federation’s (IHF) 79th Annual Conference in Kilkenny, Chief Executive, Tim Fenn says the hotel and guesthouse sector has benefited over the last twelve months from a robust tourism performance which delivered a 9.6pc increase in overseas visitors.

Over 13,000 new jobs alone were created in the tourism and hospitality sector in 2016 bringing the total number of new jobs since 2011 to almost 50,000. This demonstrates the vital role the sector plays in Ireland’s on-going positive economic and employment growth. The tourism industry as a whole now supportapproximately 220,000 jobs – equivalent to 11pc of total employment in Ireland with almost 60,000 of these jobs in the hotels sector alone.

2016 was a ground breaking year for Irish tourism overall where we saw all markets increasing their visitor numbers to Ireland. It has resulted in tourism returning to its long standing position as a key driver of economic growth throughout the country. The outlook for the sector is good for 2017. However, whilst there is great confidence and the numbers are strong, on the ground we are still seeing a concentration of visitors in the key urban areas and the growth of tourism, jobs and economic benefits are not reaching all regional and rural areas. We are making progress in growing market share thanks to effective market diversification. We are targeting higher value and higher spending markets to offset a potential downturn in the GB market due to Brexit and the sterling differential. Our visitor satisfaction ratings are highly positive reflecting our competitively priced and quality tourism product. Fáilte Ireland’s visitor research shows 95pc of holidaymakers believe value for money is good or fair, which is a significant factor. It’s time to get the next piece of the puzzle in place and with our state tourism partners tackle regional spread so we have more powerful and attractive tourism products to entice our visitors to visit and stay in those parts of our country that are not gaining in the overall upturn.”

During 2016, overseas visitors grew by 769,000 to 8.8m with increases across all key markets. North America improved on last year’s performance with visitors up by 17pc to 1.51m in 2016. Visitors from mainland Europe were up 8pc to 3.11m while visitors from Britain – Ireland’s main tourism market – were up 9pc to 3.66m.

But we cannot be complacent given the rapidly changing political situation in some of our core overseas markets. The impact of sterling’s collapse in our largest market, which accounts for 40pc of our overseas visitors, has and continues to be a significant concern. The real impact of a potential deterioration in this market will tell a new story, we believe, in 2017 as advance bookings made pre-Brexit sustained this market in 2016. Deterioration in our GB visitors will hit our rural tourism hardest as this is the one market that does travel outside our city and tourist hotspots. We must continue to make significant strides in developing our tourism product and stay focused on providing great value whilst giving holidaymakers new and compelling reasons to come here.”

 “Recent growth in air access has been crucial. The new routes added in 2016 provided increased connectivity from new and existing markets to Irish airports delivering record-breaking passenger numbers. 2017 has got off to a great start too with Norwegian Air’s announcement that their new trans-Atlantic services to Dublin, Cork and Shannon which will begin in July. The new runway announced for Dublin Airport is also to be welcomed and demonstrates confidence and commitment to further growing our tourism success.”

The IHF stated that a pro-tourism supportive Government, which has maintained the 9pc VAT rate on tourism services and the suspension of the Air Travel Tax, combined with a cost conscious sector seeking greater efficiencies to offer great value, have enabled Ireland to remain competitive.


MARKET 2016 2015 Year on Year
Trips from overseas 8.8m 8.04m 9.6pc
Britain 3.66m 3.35m 9pc
Mainland Europe 3.11m 2.88m 8pc
North America 1.51m 1.29m 17pc
Other/Long-haul 0.53m 0.52m 2pc


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