55% of hoteliers see business boost
More than half of hoteliers nationwide have seen a boost in business compared with this time last year, new figures show.
But while cities such as Dublin, Galway and Cork have reported a hike in visitors, areas outside main urban hotspots have seen less positive results so far this summer.
Figures from the latest Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) quarterly barometer showed only 50% of businesses are optimistic about customer numbers over the next 12 months - compared with 64% last year.
IHF chief executive Tim Fenn said performance has been "patchy at best" this summer. "We're now expecting business levels to be flat in many parts of the country which is severely disappointing given the very low visitor base we're working off at 30% less than the peak in 2007," he added.
On a national basis, 55% of hotels have experienced a rise in business, but the IHF said this could be mainly due to more event tourism and activities being organised in more urban areas.
Mr Fenn said areas outside the usual city tourist traps should use them as an example and find their own ways to attract more visitors.
"The challenge for the rest of the country is to ensure we continue to invest in our regional tourism product, building on successes such as the Greenway cycleway in Mayo and accelerating the roll-out of the Wild Atlantic Way touring route," he added.
The IHF said the Government's decision to retain its relatively low 9% tourism VAT rate, which is applied to hotels and various leisure activities, including concerts and other entertainment events, has helped the industry.
Some 93% of hoteliers said the tax measure is likely to continue having a positive effect on business into 2013, while 50% said they are likely to take on more staff over the next year as a direct result.