Belfast Telegraph

Third of Republic's hotels see fall in cross-border trade

By Staff Reporter

Just 10% of hotels in the Republic have reported an increase in visitors from Northern Ireland in the last six months, according to a trade body.

The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) said 55% of its members saw no change in numbers of visitors from Northern Ireland in the first six months of 2017, while 35% said numbers had fallen.

Only one in 10 said visitor numbers from Northern Ireland were up.

But despite a majority reporting a fall in visitors from the UK as a whole on foot of the Brexit vote, Irish hotels and guesthouses said they have seen business improve in the first six months of this year. More than three-quarters of hoteliers are reporting increased levels of business, according to the IHF's latest quarterly barometer.

More than 70% are also seeing a lift in domestic visits, or so-called staycations, the IHF said.

IHF president Joe Dolan said: "Visitor numbers are up, which is good news, and the growth in domestic tourism is particularly encouraging as it extends beyond the traditional tourism hot spots and its impact on local economies can be felt more widely.

"However, the latest Central Statistics Office figures show a continued fall in UK visitors, our biggest market, which illustrates the fragility of the tourism recovery."

Almost six-in-10 hoteliers are noting a decrease in visitor numbers from Britain, with 9% seeing an increase and 34% no change. Conversely, more than 52% are reporting a lift in advance bookings from the US, with 35% seeing more from Germany and 27% from France.

That trend holds for domestic tourism also, with 59% saying advance bookings for staycations are up. "The general outlook for the rest of the year appears positive overall and Ireland looks on course to surpass the 8.8 million overseas visits set last year," the IHF added.

The report also shows significant investment is planned in the sector, with 91% of hotels and guesthouses indicating that they intend to invest in refurbishment and increase capital expenditure in the next year. One in five plans to expand their existing premises.

Mr Dolan called for continued investment in marketing and product development.

Belfast Telegraph