Hoteliers gather for their annual conference in Killarney on Monday as new figures reveal room occupancy rates reached a 10-year high, at 70 percent, in 2015.
According to the annual sector report from the Irish Hotels Federation the upturn which has been sustained since 2011, has been achieved without leading to “price gouging” and high levels of inflation.
Federation chief executive Tim Fenn said while there has been some increases in room prices in recent months, rates were recovering form “a very low base” following the downturn.
“This is enabling hoteliers to reinvest revenues within the sector, enable the industry to enhance its product and create additional employment,” he said.
Irish hotels were “among the most competitively priced in Europe” and significantly lower than key competitors, he said.
In support of his view, Mr Fenn pointed to figures from Fáilte Ireland which claim 95 percent of holidaymakers said they were satisfied with the value money they received on holidays here.
During 2015, overseas visitors grew by 798,000 to 7.9 million with increases across all key markets. Visitors numbers from North America rose 13 percent to 1.3 million in 2015 while visitor numbers from mainland Europe rose 14 percent to 2.84 million.
Visitors from Britain – Ireland’s main tourism market – were up by eight percent to 3.25 million.
Total revenue generated across all tourism-related businesses in 2015 was up 10.7 percent at €7.27 billion and accounted for 4 per cent GNP.
Of this, €5.76 billion was attributed to foreign exchange earnings from overseas visitors (up 12.9 percent on 2014) and €1.51 billion to home-grown tourism (up 3 percent on 2014).
The Hotels Federation report said the upturn had been driven largely by overseas visitors – which saw an 11percent increase over the last twelve months coupled with a strengthening in consumer confidence.
It noted more than 33,000 new jobs were created in the tourism and hospitality industry since 2011, highlighting the role played by the sector as an engine of growth and employment. The tourism industry as a whole now supports approximately 205,000 jobs – “equivalent to 11 percent of total employment in the country with over 57,000 of these jobs in the hotels sector”, said Mr Fenn.
There was also increased optimism on the domestic front with about 85 percent of hoteliers reporting increased levels of business this year from the home market. People are planning more trips at home accounting for the 69 percent of all hotel bednights.”
Overseas visitor numbers 2015
Trips from overseas: 7.90 million - up 11%
Britain: 3.25 million - up 8%
Mainland Europe: 2.84 million - up 14%
North America 1.30 million - up 13%
Other / Longhaul: 0.52 million - up 13%
*Overseas visitor numbers excluding same-day visits and overseas visitors entering via Northern Ireland.