Figures show that 65% of overnight stays in the hotel sector is accounted for by native tourists, in a market worth up to €1 billion per year.
That share could grow this year as research commissioned by the tourism body revealed Irish people intend to cut back on foreign travel but 5% more said they were going to holiday at home.
Fáilte Ireland chief executive Shaun Quinn acknowledged that he would prefer to increase the share of foreign visitors as they bring in additional revenue to the country.
Mr Quinn said last year was very difficult for the sector and 2010 would also prove “pretty challenging,” with little growth expected in foreign visitor numbers. The organisation is not predicting any large increase from key markets like Britain and the US due to the ongoing weakness of sterling and dollar against the euro.
Coincidentally, new EU figures released yesterday based on data from the Central Statistics Office, suggest overseas tourists account for two-thirds of bed nights in Irish hotels.
Fáilte Ireland admitted there was an issue with the CSO over different methods used for calculating the figures. However, both agree there were approximately 23.6 million bed nights spent in Irish hotels last year – a decrease of almost 16% on 2008.
Fáilte Ireland yesterday unveiled its €4 million home holiday marketing campaign with the theme, The Fun Starts Here.
Figures showing the perception of Ireland as a good-value destination has risen from 49% to 61% over the past two years was welcomed by the organisation’s market development director, John Concannon.
He claimed this meant they could now focus on promoting home holidays on the basis of people enjoying themselves rather than on price and value.
“Our detailed research is telling us that people want to escape the current doom and gloom.
“They want to get away from the daily diet of bad news and reconnect with their friends, family and partners.”
It is estimated six out of 10 people are planning a holiday at home in 2010.
Last summer, Irish people took 3m holidays compared to 3.5m in summer 2008, though the number of domestic holidays remained the same at 1.5m. Three-quarters of all home holidays are breaks lasting one to three nights, with a similar proportion of people saying they had no special purpose for taking such breaks.
Mr Concannon said he was not concerned that just 5% of people now regarded scenery as one of Ireland’s perceived advantages as a tourist destination, compared to 15% just 18 months ago. Just 4% of believe the convenience and proximity of domestic holidays is an advantage, compared to 9% in 2008.
As part of its campaign, Fáilte Ireland will run a special advertisement to promote Cork to tie in with its recent recommendation as one of the top 10 cities to visit in 2010 by the Lonely Planet guide.