Fáilte Ireland: Bad weather has affected tourism but businesses are optimistic

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Golf clubs and caravan sites are among the businesses hardest hit by the bad weather since the start of the year, but most tourism facilities remain positive about the rest year.

The latest Fáilte Ireland tourism barometer survey revealed that weather conditions since January have dampened tourism sentiment for many sectors but most businesses are optimistic for the remainder of the year.

This survey of more than 500 tourism businesses found that the proportion of them expecting trade to be up in the year ahead greatly outweighs those expecting a downturn.

This is especially true in the accommodation sector, where two-thirds expect increased visitors compared to 2017.

The impact of the poor weather conditions particularly had an impact on caravan and campsite businesses, with almost a half seeing a decrease in visitors during the first quarter of this year. In addition, more than half of golf clubs reported a decrease in visitors as a result of the weather.

However, the paid serviced accommodation sector including hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs has had a strong start to 2018, with 48% of businesses receiving more visitors to date than the same period last year.

A further 29% have received the same level.

Hotels are performing particularly well, with 52% welcoming more visitors than in 2017.

Fáilte Ireland said the domestic market is key to this success. Close to half (46%) of hotels say their domestic corporate business is up, and a further 42% say it has remained the same.

Fáilte Ireland’s chief executive Paul Kelly said businesses were remaining upbeat despite the tough start to the year.

It’s clear that the industry felt that poor weather conditions affected their businesses in the first quarter of the year. What is striking about this report, however, is how upbeat the industry is about the year ahead.

“It indicates that for many individual businesses, advance bookings must be very good and prospects for the year ahead are particularly strong in the accommodation sector,” he said.

Mr Kelly also said that tourism businesses in northern counties are more upbeat about the impact of Brexit than they were this time last year.

“While businesses in border counties are reporting Northern Ireland business to be down, their overall performance is up on balance.

“This would suggest some diversification in visitor markets for those regions — something which has been a central component of our ‘Get Brexit Ready’ programme,” he said.

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