Action needed on access, tourism capacity, training and cost-competitiveness


Killarney, Co Kerry, 5th March 2019          The President of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) today called for tourism related projects in the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 plan to be fast-tracked in order to safeguard the continued growth of Ireland’s tourism industry, particularly in regional areas. Speaking to over 400 delegates at the Federation’s AGM and Annual Conference in Killarney, Co Kerry, Michael Lennon said that sustaining Ireland’s tourism success requires prioritising action on areas such as access, tourism capacity, provision of a skilled workforce and cost-competitiveness.

Mr Lennon said Ireland’s competitiveness is a key ingredient to sustaining growth. “As the National Competitiveness Council has highlighted, Ireland has fallen in global competitiveness rankings and this is due to increases in the cost of doing business here. Ireland is a high cost economy and Government has to do more to tackle the costs that are stifling businesses.  He referred to the rates review as a case in point. “The Valuation Office was tasked with conducting a national revaluation of commercial properties 18 years ago, yet there is a still a significant number of local authority areas that have to be reviewed. That is unacceptable. We are calling for a 30% waver for those areas that have yet to be reviewed. They are being unfairly penalised financially by a process that is painfully slow.”

Welcoming the launch of the new Shenzhen to Dublin route last week, Mr Lennon said that while direct access to Ireland has grown in recent years, and is helping to increase overseas visitors numbers, more needs to be done to drive regional access. “We cannot continue to have a two-tiered tourism industry where regional tourism is forever lagging behind the main cities and tourism hotspots. We have to make it easier and more appealing for visitors to visit the lesser-known parts of Ireland. That requires creating a better transport infrastructure – from motorway access to public transport - as well as increased marketing efforts to put rural Ireland firmly on the tourist’s map.”

“Furthermore improving regional access will help towards achieving a wider spread of tourism around the country. Providing best in class experiences that visitors can truly enjoy and recommend is vital. Part of the solution lies in increased investment to develop new attractions while more coordinated planning and management of existing attractions – from car-parking to traffic management - will help to ease some of the bottlenecks that can exist for both visitors and local residents alike.”

“But, really improving access is about much more. We must pay better attention to making Ireland more suitable for those who have accessibility needs, such as hearing, vision, and mobility, as well as for parents traveling with children. That requires a particular focus on improving transport options, access to everything from beaches to tourist attractions and our products as well as how we make information available.”

Sustaining tourism growth also means putting in place now educational programmes and supports to attract people and train people for tourism and hospitality careers.  Ireland’s tourism and hospitality industry relies heavily on the consistent delivery of a quality product. Every year, the hospitality and tourism businesses around the country recruit over 6,000 entry-level employees across all areas of their operations - food and beverage; catering; accommodation services; reception; leisure centre and spa facility management; sales and marketing; human resources; IT; management and finance. 

Our employees are our best ambassadors and we must address their ongoing and future skills needs in order to ensure a highly skilled workforce that can realise their potential and can contribute to the continuous improvement of standards across the sector,” he added. Mr Lennon called for more support for training programmes that enable people to “earn and learn”, pointing to the success of the new National Commis Chef Apprenticeship Programme which the IHF was involved in developing.





Ger McCarthy / Seán Lawless                                    Dublin office: 01 6798600

Weber Shandwick                                                        Mobile: 086 233 3590 / 085 11 676 40




Notes to Editor:


Tourism sector at a glance

  • 10.97 million overseas visitors
  • Tourism accounts for almost 4% GNP
  • Total tourism revenue of €9.42 billion in 2018
  • Tourism industry has created over 94,000 new jobs since 2011. It now supports over 260,000 jobs - equivalent to 11% of total employment in Ireland with over 60,000 of these jobs in the hotels sector alone
  • €7.47 billion in foreign exchange earnings
  • €1.95 billion in domestic tourism revenue in 2018
  • 827 Hotels (824 in 2017) and 59,609 Hotel bedrooms (58,425 in 2017)
  • 170 Guesthouses (unchanged) and 2,260 Guesthouse bedrooms (2,450 in 2017)
  • Total of 61,865 hotel and guesthouse bedrooms in Ireland (60,875 in 2017)


About the IHF

Founded in 1937, the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) is the national organisation of the hotel and guesthouse sector in Ireland. It represents almost 1,000 hotels and guesthouses nationwide, employing over 60,000 people and is a key stakeholder in the Irish tourism industry.


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