Limerick hospitality sector wants cuts to business costs

Irish Hotels Federation Shannon branch Vice-Chairman Dermot Kelly.

THE GOVERNMENT has to cut the costs that are restricting business, according to Limerick hoteliers and guesthouse owners, who have reported mixed fortunes for 2019, according to the latest industry barometer from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).

The report states that business sentiment amongst hotel and guesthouse owners across the country is continuing to fall with just over a third (35 per cent) reporting a positive outlook for 2020, as the uncertainty over Brexit and the high cost of doing business take their toll and overseas visitor growth continues to slow down.

The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office reveal a 1.5 per cent  increase in overseas visitors to the end of November, compared to a 5.5 per cent increase for the eleven months to end of November 2018.

While almost half of hoteliers (48 per cent) reported an increase in business for the year, just slightly fewer (44 per cent) reported a fall.

However, the UK market continues to decline. Seven in ten hoteliers saw a drop in business from Great Britain this year, while over half reported a fall in business levels from Northern Ireland.

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IHF Shannon branch chairman Dermot Kelly said the Government must put more supports in place to assist tourism businesses.

“We continue to face high costs in doing business, which have been compounded by the Government’s decision to increase the tourism VAT in last year’s Budget.  The threat to businesses posed by escalating insurances costs is well documented. Our members are also reporting significant pressure from rising local authority rates.

“The Government has to do more to tackle the costs that are stifling businesses. Tourism is a highly competitive business and these costs are making us less attractive as a destination. Decisive action is needed now to mitigate the impact this will have on tourism, especially the regions,” Mr Kelly declared.

“Irish tourism has been one of the great success stories of the economy in recent years, supporting 270,000 jobs and promoting balanced regional growth across the country. With 70 per cent of these jobs outside Dublin, it is a major contributor to rural economies, and regional tourism is most likely to be hardest hit by Brexit and falls in visitor numbers.

Here in Limerick the tourism and hospitality sector supports 11,500 jobs and contributes some €327 million to the local economy every year,” he said.