Hotels and guesthouses are expressing confidence for 2014 according to the latest Irish Hotels Federation’s (IHF) quarterly barometer findings. The barometer of IHF members carried out as the summer season starts shows that some 86% of hotel and guesthouses have expressed an optimistic view for future trading conditions in 2014, with some 72% of respondents indicating an increase in advance summer bookings compared to the same period last year (4% reported a decrease and 24% noted no change).
Hotel and guesthouse owners have, however, expressed renewed concern regarding pressures on their cost base, citing excessive Local Authority Rates being a key issue, with some 81% stating it is having a negative impact on their business. Local Authority Rates are the biggest single cost that hoteliers have no control over and the IHF is calling for a 30% reduction on these rates to ensure Irish tourism’s ability to compete effectively for domestic and overseas tourists. These rates are particularly affecting hotels located in rural areas that are exposed to weak domestic consumer demand.
According to the IHF, 67% of hoteliers noted a growth in domestic tourism and a rise in advance bookings from Great Britain (54%) and the United States (45%) with 75% of hoteliers reporting an overall increase in business levels so far this year. With an outlook of increased and domestic advance bookings, 42% of hoteliers state they expect to increase staffing levels over the coming 12 months. However, a pipeline of qualified staff was raised as a concern with seven out of ten (73%) hotel and guesthouse owners expressing difficulty recruiting qualified craft/entry level staff compared with 64% at the same time last year.