The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has called on general election candidates to commit to decisive action to support the continued growth of Irish tourism.
IHF president Michael Lennon stated that while tourism has returned to growth in recent years, the recovery has not been evenly spread across the country. Citing newly-released CSO overseas visitor numbers for 2019, which show a significant fall off in growth with a 1.8% increase in visitors numbers in 2019 following a 6.9% increase in 2018, Lennon warned that continued growth cannot be taken for granted and that regional tourism is most likely to be negatively affected.
Commenting on the launch of the IHF’s national tourism policy document for the general election, which is entitled "A Strategy for Job Creation and Economic Growth", Lennon said that tourism has been one of the great success stories of the economy in recent years, supporting over 260,000 jobs in every town and county, and generating €2 billion in taxes for the exchequer each year.
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Lennon asserted, "However, our industry now faces heightened uncertainty and remains vulnerable to external shocks, given our exposure to the economic environment of our major sourced markets, as Brexit clearly demonstrated. Decisive action is needed now to ensure our industry lives up to its full potential as a major engine for growth and job creation across the entire country over the next five years."
"Critical To Sustaining Regional Economies"
Lennon added, "With 70% of tourism jobs based outside of Dublin, tourism's wide geographic distribution is critical to sustaining regional economies and addressing the rural imbalance. Irish tourism has created over 90,000 new jobs since 2011. Accounting for almost 4% of GNP, tourism generates over €9.4 million in taxes each year, thereby supporting the local economies of every village, town and county."
Lennon also highlighted the high cost of doing business in Ireland, particularly around insurance and government controlled costs such as local authority rates, water and energy levies, and called for greater supports for regional tourism to counter the impact of Brexit.
He said, "Tourism represents an excellent investment for the country and it's therefore vital that it remains at the heart of Ireland's economic policy. We're calling on candidates in the general election to commit to a range of pro-tourism policies that will help to sustain the growth of tourism and the significant contribution that it makes to the economy."
The IHF's five-point plan calls on the next government to support tourism by tackling the high cost of doing business; providing more supports for regional tourism; increasing tourism marketing support; investing further in Ireland's tourism product and infrastructure; and investing in people, skills and training.
© 2020 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.