DUBLIN, Ireland – The body representing the Irish hotel trade has called for greater action to “reinvigorate” tourism from Britain, saying current government targets do not show enough ambition.
The Irish Hotels Federation says the number of visits from overseas residents rose by only around 0.2% last year – but the British sector, which usually forms a key part of Irish tourism, saw a significant drop with 100,000 visits fewer than in 2011.
IHF chief executive Tim Fenn said the fall was “a stark reminder of the amount of ground lost since 2007 and the urgent need to reinvigorate our most important tourism market”.
The government has set a goal of increasing British visits by 200,000 between now and 2016, but the federation believes the target is not aggressive enough given the current dip in tourism.
“A more aggressive approach needs to be adopted with campaigns aimed at attracting a greater spread of visitors to the regions and promoting specific reasons to visit – whether activity-based or focusing on heritage and culture,” he said.
Fenn said he was encouraged by figures showing an increase in visits from North America, which rose above the 1 million mark last year – figures which proved that specific targeted measures like the Emerald Isle Classic American football match were working.
Fenn was speaking in advance of the IHF’s annual conference, which begins tomorrow.
IMF figures showed that hotels had an average occupancy rate of 61% last year, up from 56% in 2011.
The East and Midlands region had the lowest room occupancy rates in 2011, with 55% of hotel rooms going unoccupied on an average night. Dublin had the highest average nightly occupancy rate, at 73%.