Latest figures from Ireland’s National Tourism Development Authority, Fáilte Ireland, indicate that tourism numbers are continuing to boom.
Fáilte Ireland’s Autumn Tourism Barometer reported “a recurring theme is the strong increase in German and American visitors. This could partly be down to extra flights from Germany, the strength of the US dollar against the euro, the perceived safety of Ireland and the continuation of global economic recovery.”
However, they also stated “US is the biggest one - 34% up. They love the product.
“German market up 17%. Overall, going forward up 18% on last quarter of the year, which is great. Coming from US, mostly, and Germany second.”
Speaking about the results, Fáilte Ireland CEO Shaun Quinn said “As expected, tourism businesses across the country had another successful summer and with many recording their best season ever. Yet, we must keep our eye on the factors underpinning our growth – compelling visitor experiences, increased carrier capacity and a favorable exchange rate with the US Dollar - and avoid strategies which in time could undermine our current reputation for good value.”
Looking ahead to 2017 the report stated “While bookings are coming in for 2017, not all markets are expected to flourish. The US and Germany are expected to deliver further increases, but all eyes are on Great Britain, with some industry leaders expecting a drop in the number of visitors – in the short term, at least.”
Fáilte Ireland’s report put the continued increase in tourism numbers to Ireland down to the island’s compelling brands, continued competitiveness, and good air access, which they report is key to sustained growth.
The Irish tourism industry enjoyed a buoyant 2016 summer season with a significant proportion of hoteliers (84%) and guesthouse operators (76%) reporting that their business was up on their 2015 performance. The Fáilte Ireland’s Autumn Tourism Barometer, which surveyed over 600 tourism businesses, recorded peak levels of confidence in the sector.
However, there are still some concerns within the sector. While operating costs (excluding fuel and energy) continue to be mentioned by 39% of enterprises as an issue, the new challenge of ‘Brexit’ now features as the most common concern for the future within the industry at the moment, mentioned by 44% of businesses.
This concern is reflected in the fact that only about one in four (27%) of paid serviced accommodation providers expect growth from Britain over the next few months despite the fact that almost half (47%) experienced more British business so far this year. Existing concerns about Brexit center around uncertainty with regard to the implications of the vote and the current impact of the situation on exchange rates.
Addressing the year ahead, Quinn emphasized “The early indications are that the 2017 season is likely to be one of opportunity in terms of further growth from North America and Mainland Europe but also challenge in terms of holding market share in Britain, our largest single source market. Ireland is generally perceived as an extension of the domestic British holiday market and our performance there will critically depend on changes in carrier capacity and exchange rates.
“In that context, we will be intensifying our efforts to support regional and seasonal business expansion in specific growth segments of our core markets, segments where our Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East brands are now performing well.”