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Annual Hotels Sector Report Published by Irish Hotels Federation


  • 70% average national room occupancy rate in 2015 (up from 64% in 2014)  
  • €7.27 billion in revenue generated by Irish tourism in 2015
  • 7.9 million* overseas visitors in 2015, up 798,000 (11%)


Sunday, 28th February 2016: The average national room occupancy rate for Irish hotels and guesthouses reached a 10-year high of 70% in 2015, driven largely by an upturn in overseas visitor numbers. This compares with a 64% occupancy rate the previous year. Speaking on the eve of the Irish Hotels Federation’s (IHF) 78th Annual Conference, Chief Executive Tim Fenn says that the hotels sector has benefited from an 11% increase in overseas visitors over the last twelve months coupled with a strengthening in consumer confidence.


Mr Fenn says that the creation of over 33,000 new jobs by tourism and hospitality businesses since 2011, highlights the vital economic role being played by the sector as an engine of growth and employment. The tourism industry as a whole now supports approximately 205,000 jobs - equivalent to 11% of total employment in the country with over 57,000 of these jobs in the hotels sector.


“Tourism has been the shining light in Ireland’s economic recovery and there’s a real sense of optimism in the sector following last year’s strong performance. The upturn in visitor numbers is continuing, which bodes well for the outlook over the next twelve months,” says Mr Fenn. “We’re making enormous strides in growing market share thanks to highly effective marketing and a competitively priced product. This is reflected in recent research by Fáilte Ireland showing 95% of holidaymakers saying they are satisfied in terms of value money which is a significant factor.”


“Irish hotels are among the most competitively priced in Europe and significantly lower than our key competitors,” says Mr Fenn. “While there has been some growth in rates recently, he says it’s important to recognise that these are recovery room rates from a very low base following the downturn. This is enabling hoteliers to reinvest revenues within the sector, enable the industry to enhance its product and create additional employment”


During 2015, overseas visitors grew by 798,000 to 7.9 million with increases across all key markets. North America delivered a stellar performance with visitors up by 13% to 1.3 million in 2015. Visitors from mainland Europe were up 14% to 2.84 million while visitors from Britain – Ireland’s main tourism market – were up by 8% to 3.25 million.


Mr Fenn states that strong cut-through on the marketing front has reinvigorated Ireland’s tourism brand and image as a holiday destination. He says: “We continue to make significant strides in developing our tourism product and in giving holidaymakers new and compelling reasons to visit. Examples include the recently launched Ireland’s Ancient East trail and of course the Wild Atlantic Way, which is proving to be an enormous draw. Targeted investment in initiatives such as these is vital to the long-term success of our tourism product.”


Mr Fenn also points to increased optimism on the domestic front. Some 85% of hoteliers are reporting increased levels of business this year from the home market, with people taking more trips at home and spending more money in the local economy. This is of tremendous importance given demand from the island of Ireland accounts for the 69% of all hotel bednights.”


Total revenue generated across all tourism-related businesses in 2015 was up 10.7% at €7.27 billion and accounted for 4% GNP. Of this, €5.76 billion was attributed to foreign exchange earnings from overseas visitors (up 12.9% on 2014) and €1.51 billion to home-grown tourism (up 3% on 2014).


While most of the country is now benefitting from the uplift in tourism, the gains have not been spread evenly across the country, notes Mr Fenn. He states that growth in occupancy levels continues to lag in areas outside the traditional tourism hotspots due to an over-reliance on the domestic market – which accounts for over 80% of revenues for many hotels and guesthouses outside the larger urban areas. This is further compounded by the disproportionate negative impact that seasonality has on regional tourism.



Breakdown of Overseas Visitor Numbers*





Year on Year





Trips from Overseas

7.90 million

7.11 million

11% increase


3.25 million

3.01 million

8% increase

Mainland Europe

2.84 million

2.49 million

14% increase

North America

1.30 million

1.15 million

13% increase

Other / Longhaul

0.52 million

0.46 million

13% increase


(*overseas visitor numbers excluding same-day visits and overseas visitors entering via Northern Ireland)




Eoin Quinn / Siobhan Molloy                       Dublin office: 01 6798600

Weber Shandwick                                           Mobile: 087 233 2191 / 086 817 50 66




78th IHF ANNUAL CONFERENCE (29th February – 1st March 2016)

  • 7.90 million overseas visitors in 2015, 11% increase on 2014
  • Tourism accounts for almost 4% GNP
  • Total tourism revenue of €7.27 billion in 2015, up 10.7% compared with 2014
  • €5.76 billion foreign exchange earnings in 2015, up 12.9% on 2014
  • €1.51 billion in domestic tourism revenue in 2015, up 3% on 2014
  • 807 hotels (801 in 2014) with 56,937 bedrooms (56,312 bedrooms in 2014)
  • 204 guesthouses (226 in 2014) with 2,598 bedrooms (2,832 in 2014)
  • Total of 59,535 hotel and guesthouse bedrooms in Ireland (59,144 in 2014)


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