Despite another year of growth in 2018, business sentiment among hotels in Mayo and across the country has dropped significantly - according to the latest hotel barometer from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF ). Less than half of hotels (49% ) nationally now report a positive outlook for the next 12 months compared with the 82% that had a positive outlook this time last year. Key concerns for the sector include the escalating risk and uncertainty around Brexit, reduced visitors numbers from the UK and the increasing costs of doing business.
While 73% of hotels have seen some increase in overall business levels this year, growth from North America and Europe has masked the poor performance of the UK market with visitors still down 5% on 2016 due to persistently weak performance following the referendum. This is having a direct impact on hotels throughout the country with 52% reporting a drop in business from Great Britain this year while 40% have seen a drop in business from Northern Ireland. The vast majority of hotels (91% ) now express concern about the impact of Brexit on their business over the next 12 months.
Darren Madden, Chair of the IHF’s Mayo branch stated: “We are increasingly concerned about the direction that Brexit is taking and the impact that heightened uncertainty is having on our sector. A disruptive Brexit would have enormous economic repercussions which would be felt directly by tourism businesses here in Mayo and across the country given our heavy reliance on the UK market.”
Tourism currently supports 5,800 jobs in Mayo and contributes some €204m to the local economy annually.
Mr Madden added that even if a deal is eventually reached, any prolonged uncertainty in the coming months could result in a further erosion of consumer sentiment.
“The consistent growth achieved over the last seven years in a dynamic and competitive international market cannot be taken for granted. We are particularly concerned with the Government’s change in approach to tourism and the lack of recognition of the important role it plays as an engine of economic growth and regional balance. With the Brexit storm gathering, relentless increases in the cost of doing business, international trade wars, a slowdown in European growth and the increase in tourism VAT, there is little surprise in the drop in business sentiment. Many of our members are now re-examining their future investment strategies and taking a more cautious approach to planning for next year and beyond."