by Alan Jacques
LIMERICK hoteliers have welcomed the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which show an 11 per cent increase in overseas visitors between May and July this year.
Chairwoman of the Shannon Branch of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, believes this growth has delivered a major boost to Irish tourism, building on last year’s performance. Overseas visitors to Ireland are now expected to reach 7.8 million this year, up from 7.3 million in 2014.
“There has been a real sense of optimism in Limerick this summer season as we have seen more visitors on the ground – all welcome news for hotels and guesthouses,” Ms Fitzgerald Kane explained.
She said it is particularly encouraging to see strong recovery continuing from Britain, which is up over 12 per cent for the first half of this year. The Limerick tourism industry is also benefiting from a 14.9 per cent visitor increase from North America and up 12.7 per cent for the rest of Europe – which are key overseas markets.
Ms Fitzgerald Kane maintains that the tourism industry continues to provide economic growth and employment opportunities in Limerick thanks to a number of direct actions from the Government, including the zero rate travel tax and the nine per cent tourism VAT rate.
“In addition to the increase in overseas tourism, it is heartening to see that national tourism efforts to reignite the domestic tourism sector are having an effect with a healthy increase in home holidaymakers being recorded. Limerick hotels and guesthouses are witnessing increased business from Irish visitors as growing numbers are taking full advantage of the good value available.”
Ms Fitzgerald Kane cautions, however, that growth in hotel revenues in Limerick are coming from a low base following the downturn. She says that many hotels and guesthouses continue to face problems particularly in rural areas, but that sustainability for all hoteliers is the common goal.