Ireland’s tourism industry is booming, however the combined aftereffect of a ‘bad’ Brexit and a VAT rise to take influence on January 1 could throw a significant spanner in the works.
Those were on the list of takeaways at ‘Let’s Talk Tourism’, the national tourism forum occurring in Killarney, Co Kerry, today.
“Year ever for Irish tourism we have been coming to the finish of best,” said the opening speaker, Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáílte Ireland. “Those are phenomenal figures… but I don’t think we are able to continue steadily to grow at that type or sort of rate.”
Ireland is on course to clock around 9.this year 69 million visitors, he said, however the priority for Fá now;ilte Ireland is approximately building sustainable growth.
“Falling off a cliff edge is what most of us desire to avoid,” added Eoghan O’Meara Walsh, CEO of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC).
Diversifying beyond the British market and enticing people to shoulder seasons and rural areas were key themes for both speakers, with O’Meara Walsh suggesting a dependence on capital shelling out for projects such as a ‘coast-to-coast greenway’, a Dark Sky Observatory or perhaps a visitor centre at Donegal’s Slieve League cliffs.
There was broad support for the essential notion of a ‘National Tourism Week’ day much like those held in america or, Canada or uk, with Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Sport and tourism, Brendan Griffin, later adding that “I believe only positive things could emerge from it”.
However, the recent VAT hike for the hospitality and tourism industry, from 9pc to 13.5pc, from January 1 effective, was mooted as a genuine threat to demand.
“With Brexit decreasing the track, the timing is awful really,” O’Meara Walsh said.
Minister Griffin conceded that the rate hike was a “challenge”.
Keeping the tourism VAT rate at 9pc was “something I fought very difficult for,” he said throughout a panel discussion. “But I didn’t get yourself a result onto it, unfortunately, not this right time…”
However, he added that there is a 26pc upsurge in the tourism cover 2019, which may help investment, and that 13.5pc was lower than the comparable still, 20pc standard rate in the Northern and UK Ireland.
Great line-up of speakers and ideas at #TalkTourism today. Ireland is on a roll, but I believe the main element word from today’s forum &lsquo was;sustainability’. How exactly to grow smart, and consider what we&rsquo carefully;re selling. pic.twitter.com/9pnYm9fhzn
— Pól Ó Conghaile (@poloconghaile) November 9, 2018
“I don’t believe that it is a thing that will kill the completely,” he said.
The Killarney forum saw a largely optimistic group of talks and panel discussions on the constant state of Irish tourism. Moderated by broadcaster Olivia O’Leary, the sold-out event happened at the fantastic Southern Hotel.
The relevant question of how exactly to sustain Ireland’s tourism growth while riding out Brexit, the VAT hike and increased international competitiveness emerged as key.
Global tourism agencies are moving from “demand creation” to “demand management”, said Mark Henry of Tourism Ireland, who noted the exponential prospect of growth in emerging markets like China.
Over 100,000 Chinese visitors shall arrived at Ireland in 2018, added James Kenny, Tourism Ireland’s China Country Manager, but businesses would have to be ‘China-ready’.
Panel discussions noted potential future problems with labour supplies and the necessity for immigration and EU workers to staff Ireland’s growing tourism sector (already in charge of 240,000 jobs).
week for industry leaders
The discussions taken to a detailed a busy.
It saw 70 businesses from all around the island join Tourism Ireland on the ‘Ireland’ stand at World Travel Market in London, on Wednesday while, both Mr Niall and Kelly Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, warned the Oireachtas Transport, Sport and tourism committee of the threat Brexit poses.
A no-deal Brexit (referred to as a “doomsday” scenario at the Forum) may cost Ireland around €390 million, Kelly said.
NB: The Irish Independent is media partner for Let’s Talk Tourism.
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