This was one of the key takeaways from the latest Fáilte Ireland’s Autumn Tourism Barometer which surveyed over 600 tourism businesses.
A growth in profitability is reflected in the fact that the majority of hotels (63%) and guesthouses (54%) had more staff on their books this year.
“As expected, tourism businesses across the country had another successful Summer and with many recording their best season ever,” said Fáilte Ireland Chief Executive Shaun Quinn, “Yet we must keep our eye on the factors underpinning our growth – compelling visitor experiences, increased carrier capacity and a favourable exchange rate with the US Dollar – and avoid strategies which in time could undermine our current reputation for good value.”
Fáilte Ireland’s survey of tourism businesses indicates that most operators remain optimistic but there are some concerns about the future. Those businesses which are more likely to operate all year round are most optimistic about the coming few months, led by hotels (74% expecting business to be up) followed by ‘attractions’ (64%), guesthouses (63%) and restaurants (61%).
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 centre around uncertainty with regard to the implications of the vote and the current impact of the situation on exchange rates.
“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,” emphasised Shaun Quinn, addressing the coming year, “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’ll 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”.