Ireland’s hoteliers and guesthouse owners are forecasting a positive summer for the sector, according to the latest industry survey by the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF). The majority (70 per cent) report that business has increased year on year, with a boost from staycations and overseas markets including continental Europe and North America, though 49 per cent noted a drop in UK business.
Improving business levels have resulted in increased confidence – 94 per cent expect to invest in capital expenditure projects in the next 12 months, with half planning to invest in technology, including broadband improvements. Sustainability is also a concern, with 37 per cent expecting to implement technology such as smart thermostats, motion sensor lighting and energy efficient appliances.
“It is enabling hotels to invest more extensively in their businesses this year – from refurbishment to expansion, as well as investing in new facilities, services, employment and marketing – which feeds out into the wider economy,” said IHF President Michael Lennon, who also noted the positive impact of government supports such as the 9 per cent VAT rate and zero travel tax on the tourism sector’s recovery, as well as initiatives such as the recently-launched Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands brand.
Employment growth is set to continue this year, with Lennon noting that the tourism industry is on course to create 40,000 new jobs by 2021. Continued tourism growth has led to a renewed interest in employment opportunities and almost half of hoteliers (47 per cent) expect to increase staff numbers over the next year, across all levels.
“We have made considerable progress in developing varied career paths for new and existing employees that support professional development and advancement with skills that are transferable internationally,” said Lennon. “The new industry-led Commis Chef Apprenticeship programme launched earlier this year with Solas, for example, enables young people who may not necessarily want to commit to a full-time college course gain an internationally recognised qualification, while getting valuable on the job experience.”