Hoteliers told they must fill planes to sustain tourism boom

Tourism bodies say airlines have 620,000 seats to bring people to Ireland every week

Hoteliers will have to consolidate their marketing efforts to ensure visitor numbers remain strong says Tourism Ireland.

Hoteliers have been told they must consolidate their marketing to ensure that annual revenue - which is in the order of €10 billion a year - is sustained.

Niall Gibbons chief executive of Tourism Ireland said air access into Ireland had improved dramatically over the last decade with 620,000 seats into Ireland each week - up from 424,000 in 2011.

He said the improvement in access was reflected in flights flights from Minneapolis-St Paul and Montreal to Dublin as well as an American Airlines service from Dallas to Dublin and a Norwegian flight from Ontario to Dublin.

New flights from Europe included a Ryanair services from Cologne to Ireland West Airport Knock; a service from East Midlands to Shannon and from Gothenburg to Dublin.


The air access helps generate more than €6 billion in foreign earnings supporting 320,000 jobs in the industry which has an overall worth of about €10 billion North and South.

Mr Gibbons welcomed the decision by Aer Lingus to double the size of its fleet by 2025, as well as the recent introduction of a second direct service from China.

But he told members of the Irish Hotels Federation at their annual conference in Kerry they would have to consolidate their marketing efforts to ensure visitor numbers remained strong and flights were filled. He said there were already seasonal issues in which carriers serving regional airports in Ireland were struggling to fill their planes. Referring to global tourism, particularly form north America he said “we all have a job to make sure they come here”

Drive demand

Paul Kelly chief executive with Fáilte Ireland said it was up to hoteliers to “drive enough demand this year” among potential tourists to ensure the airlines were full. He said Fáilte Ireland was working with Government departments on regional and rural development to ensure the tourism product was a quality one, but expanded access capacity meant hoteliers would have to consolidate their marketing and ensure the people kept coming.

However Michael Lennon president of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) said sustaining tourist numbers also involved improving access to the regions.

While he welcoming the launch of the new Shenzhen, China to Dublin route last week, Mr Lennon said more needs to be done to drive regional access. “We cannot continue to have a two-tiered tourism industry where regional tourism is forever lagging behind the main cities and tourism hotspots,” he said.

“We have to make it easier and more appealing for visitors to visit the lesser-known parts of Ireland. That requires creating a better transport infrastructure - from motorway access to public transport - as well as increased marketing efforts to put rural Ireland firmly on the tourist’s map.”

Mr Lennon called for €300m in funding ear marked for Tourism projects in the National Development Plan should be brought forwards to sustain regional tourism and protect jobs.

Calling for the funding to be fast-tracked Mr Lennon said it was vital to safeguard the continued growth of Ireland’s tourism industry, particularly in regional areas.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist