Alarming 80% drop in UK visitors to Kilkenny as Brexit bites
By COLIN BARTLEY
HOTELS and guesthouses in Kilkenny have seen a near 80% falloff in bookings from UK visitors.
The latest figures released from a national industry survey from the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) shows 57% of hotels have seen a fall in overall business levels compared to this time last year while 33% report an increase. Industry experts say Brexit is a “particularly challenging”.
Due to Brexit and the drop in the value of sterling, visitor levels from the UK have fallen. Some 78% of hotels across the country have seen a fall-off in business from Great Britain compared to last year, while 60% report a decrease in business from Northern Ireland.
While tourism business from North America and the domestic market were stronger, results for these markets were very mixed: 36% of hoteliers report an increase in business from North America (30% report a decrease from this market) while 45% report an increase in business from Irish domestic tourism (30% report a decrease from this market). Business from the European market has also fallen, according to the survey.
Local hoteliers have voiced concerns about tourism performance and the challenges facing the sector. They want the Government restore the 9% tourism VAT rate. The industry in Kilkenny currently supports 4,300 jobs and contributes over €100 million to the local economy annually.
Commenting on the results, IHF South East branch chair Colm Neville said: “We are now at a crossroads and facing a number of pressing challenges including serious risks associated with Brexit, increasingly high costs of doing business in Ireland and ongoing difficulties in attracting visitors to the regions and extending the short tourism season. To help address these challenges, we are calling for additional supports from Government to assist tourism businesses, including a restoration of the 9% VAT rate.
“Brexit is particularly challenging in light of our heavy reliance on visitors from the UK, which is even more pronounced for regional tourism businesses. A ‘no-deal’ outcome would cause enormous difficulties for the hotel sector, creating the prospect of a drop of over 10% in tourism revenues from UK visitors and a decline in Irish consumer sentiment, which would have a knock-on effect on domestic tourism activity.”