Hotels and guesthouses in Mayo have reported a year of mixed performances, according to the latest industry barometer from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).
Business sentiment among hotel and guesthouse owners is continuing to fall with just over one third (35%) reporting a positive outlook for 2020, as the uncertainty over Brexit and the high cost of doing business take their toll on top of a slowdown in overseas visitor growth.
The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show only a 1.5% increase in overseas visitors to the end of November, compared to a 5.5% increase for the eleven months to end of November 2018.
While almost half of hoteliers (48%) reported an increase in business for 2019, just slightly fewer (44%) reported a fall.
Business levels from the domestic and US markets remain strong, with 48% of hoteliers reporting increases in the domestic market and 44% reporting increases in the US market.
However, the UK market continues to decline. Seven in 10 hoteliers saw a drop in business from Great Britain in 2019, while over half reported a fall in business levels from Northern Ireland. The anticipated fallout from Brexit in 2020 and the high cost of doing business remain key concerns for the sector.
Darren Madden, chair of the Mayo branch of the IHF, said the government must put more supports in place to assist tourism.
“We continue to face high costs of doing business, which have been compounded by the Government’s decision to increase the tourism Vat in last year’s Budget. The threat to businesses posed by escalating insurances costs is well documented. Members are also reporting significant pressure from rising local authority rates.
“The Government has to do more to tackle the costs that are stifling businesses. Tourism is a highly competitive business and these costs are making us less attractive as a destination. Decisive action is needed now to mitigate the impact this will have on tourism.
“Irish tourism has been one of the great success stories of the economy in recent years, supporting 270,000 jobs and promoting balanced regional growth. With 70% of these jobs outside Dublin, it is a major contributor to rural economies. Here in Mayo it supports 5,800 jobs and contributes €208m to the local economy annually.”