THE LATEST FÁILTE Ireland Tourism Barometer shows that although growth remains slow there were some promising recovery signs in the industry this year with a number of different sectors saying 2012 was the best performing season since the recession began.
The survey, of over 750 different tourism businesses, also shows business sentiment at heights last seen in 2007, at the height of the boom. While confidence in the sector has improved, recovery remains gradual with some sectors outperforming others.
The hotel sector in particular has seen boost in cities and traditional tourism hotspots from the increased number in visitors from at home and abroad. While other accommodation providers, such as caravan and camping, and the restaurant sector are still in challenging times.
“It appears that we may be experiencing a two speed recovery in tourism,” says Shaun Quinn, chief executive of Fáilte Ireland.
Chart from Fáilte Ireland Tourism Barometer
The most important sector to recovery is the overseas markets with figures showing the lucrative US market is picking up. The Notre Dame vs Navy match at the beginning of September gave Irish tourism a welcome boost. Also, European visitors from mostly France and Germany are holding steady.
However, Visitor numbers from Britain remain significantly low. This has been put down to the fact the country has financial problems of its own, and aggressive marketing by British tourist boards has been keeping the British from travelling abroad. However, Mr Quinn has faith in winning them back:
Our largest market Britain remains depressed. If we are to really turn the corner to a full recovery, we will need to win back significant numbers from that market in 2013 and, hopefully next year’s ‘The Gathering’ will play some part in that.
Interestingly, almost 82% of the respondents to the survey say that the London 2012 Olympics had no effect on their business, while 13% say it had a negative effect. Others experienced a noticeable decline in visitors from Britain and mainland Europe during the peak summer season.
Failte Ireland is looking positively to the future of tourism in Ireland over the next two years. Ireland will host the EU Presidency for the first six months in 2013, which is expected to bring significant conferences and events to Dublin, that coupled with a large amount of bookings for the Convention Centre Dublin in 2014, Dublin is expected to be busy.