Hoteliers in Sligo have welcomed the Government’s new tourism policy launched by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and Minister Paschal Donohoe, last week.
Commenting on the launch, Brian Pierson, Chair of the Sligo branch of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), acknowledged the support the Government have given in ensuring tourism remains at the heart of Ireland’s economic policy.
Mr Pierson stated that hoteliers in Sligo look forward to working to achieve the targets set out in the tourism strategy, including plans to grow overseas visitors to 10 million per annum by 2025.
This would increase annual revenues from overseas visitors to €5 billion and result in an additional 50,000 jobs for the country, bringing total employment supported by the sector to over 250,000.
“The Government’s continued strong focus on tourism is of critical importance for the many thousands of tourism businesses throughout the country, including hotels and guesthouses in Sligo.
The tourism strategy announced today is a welcome recognition of tourism’s potential to continue delivering much-needed jobs growth,” says Mr Pierson.
“The tourism industry has made significant progress in recent years, creating over 33,000 much-needed jobs since 2011. However, we are only at the beginning of the recovery in Irish tourism.
“A lot more can be achieved as outlined in the Government’s tourism policy, building on the unprecedented levels of collaboration that now exist between tourism industry partners – including closer coordination among businesses, local communities, state agencies and local authorities.”
Mr Pierson states: “Thanks to a number of pro-tourism initiatives, the industry continues to act as an engine of employment growth – both nationally and throughout Sligo.
“The 9% VAT rate, in particular, has been of enormous importance to the industry, helping to level the playing field for tourism businesses when competing with international destinations for visitors. It continues to create much-needed employment across the country with 70% of Irish hotels and guesthouses planning to take on additional new staff over the next twelve months.”
Mr Pierson notes that there is an increased sense of optimism in the tourism industry as it continues to grow market share and attract growing numbers of overseas visitors.
He said: “Our industry has significantly upped its game on the marketing front in recent years, with targeted programmes from Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland achieving strong cut through in reinvigorating our tourism brand and Ireland’s image as a holiday destination.
“We have, without doubt, become more imaginative in developing our tourism product and in giving holidaymakers new and compelling reasons to visit.
Today’s new tourism strategy represents the next step in this journey for our industry.”
The tourism industry as a whole accounts for 4% of gross national product (GNP) and now supports almost 205,000 jobs – equivalent to 11% of total employment in the country, some 54,000 of which are in the hotels sector.