Fáilte Ireland is aiming to achieve another record year for tourism in Ireland in 2019.
The tourism authority is targeting growth of 5% next year, despite the challenges of Brexit and the return of the 13.5% VAT rate.
The hospitality VAT increase, which was strongly criticised by many in Donegal, will cause a ‘significant commercial challenge for tourism businesses’, according to Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland.
Mr Kelly said that Ireland’s international competitiveness could be damaged by the resulting price pressure placed on hotels and restaurants as the VAT rises from 9%.
Another major challenge for tourism in 2019 is the uncertainty around the impact of Brexit.
Failte Ireland launched their plans for the year ahead at a major industry event in Croke Park yesterday. They recorded over 9.6m overseas tourists and 9.8m domestic trips to Ireland in 2018, generating €7.8bn in revenue.
Creating a series of long-term tourism development plans for specific geographical locations, developing new festivals to lengthen the tourism season, and promoting careers in the tourism sector are some of the initiatives in the pipeline.
A key project involving Donegal is the development of Visitor Experience Development Plans in the regions.
Failte Ireland plans to drive visitor numbers to ‘lesser known areas’ such as the Inishowen Peninsula on the Wild Atlantic Way by working with local stakeholders, tourism businesses and communities.
2018 was a record year for the Wild Atlantic Way in terms of both tourist numbers and tourist spend with an estimated 3.8m overseas and 4.4m domestic trips to the region, with a combined spend of €3bn – the highest spend since the inception of the brand.
A €470,000 investment in the development of Fanad Lighthouse was highlighted as a major Capital Investment Projects.
The Visitor Experience Development Plans are a key way to build on the success of 2018, according to the authority.
New festivals and events are also being identified to drive growth in Irish tourism in the off peak season. Ireland will host a month-long celebration of food to showcase the quality of local produce and drive increased visitor numbers and revenue, particularly in the off season.
This, along with a new Hospitality and Tourism Careers Oversight Group and increased marketing and sales are all planned for the year to come to leverage growth opportunities and help the industry to overcome the challenges that lie ahead.
Mr Kelly said: “Our aim is to deliver another record year in 2019 and we forecast that growth of as much as 5% could be achieved. For tourism to continue to grow, it will need to be planned in a sustainable way for visitors, industry, communities and the environment.
“Our plans for the year ahead focus on how we can both meet the challenges and leverage the opportunities facing the industry to keep the current growth momentum going, by spreading visitors across the country, and growing business in the off-season months, to make sure Ireland remains a high quality destination, which provides good value for our visitors.”Tags: