“The Germans are back in force,” said one tourism provider at a trade event for the Irish sector in Killarney, Co Kerry on Wednesday. The Fáilte Ireland Meitheal gathering, attended by 230 international buyers from 17 countries, also heard that tourism businesses are facing challenges in meeting demand for hotel rooms and activity slots.
Established in 1975, the Meitheal tourism trade show is the biggest direct sales event for the €7.5 billion Irish tourism industry. The event includes 10-minute consultations likened to “speed dating” where 450 Irish businesses can meet buyers.
Attendees said representatives from the UK are thinner on the ground than usual this year, but buyer interest from the US and Canada is strong, while buyers from the United Arab Emirates and Asia have arrived in numbers. “The Germans are back in force too,” said Ray Sinnott, estate manager for 70 acres of gardens at Mountcongreve in Co Waterford, which has invested €7 million in its offering. Mr Sinnott said tourists have become more interested in destinations offering cooler summers and outdoor activities, such as viewing vegetable gardens.
Fáilte Ireland representatives said “significant business” for this year and 2024 had taken place at the event, seen as a barometer of trends and trade.
Golf was back with a bang, according to attendees. John Murray of All Access Golf said links courses were busy but “the market is asking now for the northwest”.
Paul Mockler of Fáilte Ireland said those at the fair were mainly seeking four- and five-star accommodation across the island and this demand was being met, so far. He acknowledged capacity challenges partly linked to providing accommodation to those seeking refuge in the State but said tourism was “a creative and resilient industry”.