On his return from a major hotel investment conference in Dublin earlier this week a leading hotel operator warned against price hikes.
The chairman of the Donegal Branch of the Irish Hotels Federation, Paul Diver, said that while he was delighted that there were clear signs of growth in the hospitality industry he was concerned that inflated price hikes could destroy our image as a good value destination.
Speaking to the Donegal Democrat Diver said, “There was a lot of buoyancy at the conference today with many operators feeling extremely optimistic about the future growth of tourism in the country.
“This is indeed justified by present advance booking trends. But we must remember that one of the main reasons that we got here is because we finally got the balance right - we married the value and the quality and were regarded as a value destination.
“We all remember the years when we were regarded as an overpriced destination and a shoddy product - we do not want to return to this situation”
Diver added that reports from all parts of the county have shown considerable growth to date and added that advance bookings were ahead year to year.
Continuing he said, “We must remember that over the last number of years many hotels unfortunately have gone into liquidation and consequently have reduced the supply.
“Regrettably this may not be over just yet - Saville Estate Agencies just this week have indicated that sales of Irish Hotels could achieve €350 million by the end of the year.
“With the advance of technology even the smallest rural hotel must now realise that they are competing with hotels in every part of the world - not just the hotel down the road. “WWW means exactly what it says - world wide web. The customer of today is looking for value married with quality and will trawl the web to get the very best deal.
“It is vital for the industry to control costs and as a result keep our prices competitive.
“In recent weeks we have seen a lot of speculation abut property bubbles and the likes- it was that very same speculation that got us into the critical situation over the last few years. We have to learn not to believe our on publicity.”
The Democrat asked Diver what he felt was the main driving force behind the growth ?
“Essentially it is a combination of our competitive presence on the world market, our quality and exceptional marketing.
“For years we complained that all the tourists were taking the line south of Galway and heading to traditional hotspots like Cork and Kerry.
“Trends have changed and we are now witnessing a large growth in tourism all over the North West. “The Wild Atlantic Way has been a major boost and we are now seeing visitors from every part of the globe - hopefully this will bring tourists to many of the undiscovered parts of our county. We still have many undiscovered gems in West Donegal - as long as we keep the product and prices right, we will all benefit.”