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Survey shows rise in hotel room bookings

CROWE Horwath, who are leading advisors to the Irish Hotel sector, has launched its 18th annual survey, which showed improvements in the West of Ireland in terms of room occupancy.

It also showed that prices for rooms are increasing in the West, although by less than in other parts of Ireland.

For its purposes it includes all the counties in Connacht as well as Clare and Donegal in the western seaboard region. It found in the West room occupancy increased by 3.9% to 62.9% while room rates increased by an average of five per cent to €61.87.

While these statistics point to an upturn in the West, Lahinch hotelier Michael Vaughan, who is also president of the Irish Hotels Federation, said that the recovery in Clare isn’t as strong as in the rest of the region.

He pointed out that in the Clare-Limerick region growth has resumed, but is slower. “There has been a slight improvement, but certainly not to the extent reported by Crowe Horwath. I’d be inclined to say that the rise is somewhere between one and three per cent, it isn’t any more than that. We’re inching our way forward, there’s a very small level of growth and I’d say most of it is in Limerick.”

He said that over the last few years around ten hotels in Clare have been taken over by banks or had to close.

“Really there has been a lot of collateral damage over the last number of years and these hotels have to go through new ownership before they begin to perform better.

“It’s starting to happen, I believe we’re getting to a turning point at the moment. There are green shoots, but not the forest that there is in Dublin where they’re doing tremendously well and in Cork too they’re doing tremendously well. In Clare we’re edging our way forward, that’s what I’d say,” Mr Vaughan added.

The number of American tourists coming to Clare is up dramatically this year, and Mr Vaughan said that new efforts will be made to make the county attractive in the US during the winter season.

“There are a lot of Americans this year. We have a challenge in the region to keep the New York and Boston flight and there’s going to be a high powered tourism grouping put together to come up with offers over the winter to make sure those services are maintained. There have been calls by Aer Lingus on the region to produce significant offers for tourists so those flights are attractive for tourists.”

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