Donegal hoteliers yesterday afternoon welcomed the continuing growth in visitors to Ireland as recorded in the latest CSO figures.
These show a 9.8% increase in trips to the Ireland by overseas visitors between May-July of this year.
Donegal hoteliers state that this growth is very positive for the sector, helping to sustain local employment. However, they caution that the effect of Brexit and the weakness in sterling need to be monitored so that the sector can plan for potential negative impact.
Paul Diver, Chairman of the Donegal Branch of the Irish Hotels Federation believes that the growth in visitors has delivered a major boost to Irish tourism, building on last year’s performance.
The latest figures show visitor numbers from North America up 13.3% while Britain is recording an increase of 8.6% and the rest of Europe is up 10%.
“There has been a real sense of optimism in Donegal this summer season, as we have seen more visitors on the ground. However, Brexit is a significant concern with Sterling having fallen by more than 16% against the Euro compared to this time last year. This could have a negative knock-on effect for our local tourism industry.” said Diver.
He stated that the tourism industry continues to provide economic growth and vital employment opportunities in Donegal thanks to a number of direct actions from the Government, including the zero rate travel tax and the 9% tourism VAT rate.
“The 9% VAT rate in particular has been of major significance to the industry. This has brought our VAT rate into line with other European destinations .
“Tourism” is now a major contributor to our economy, generating €128 million in Donegal and supporting 6,600 jobs.”
He states that, 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. He says that Donegal hotels and guesthouses are witnessing increased business from Irish holidaymakers as growing numbers of people take advantage of the good value available.
Mr Diver cautions, however, that growth in hotel revenues inDonegal are coming from a low base following the downturn and that many hotels and guesthouses in rural areas continue to face significant challenges.