The body representing the tourism industry here has said it is concerned that the recovery of the sector is still some way off the levels reached prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Publishing its latest monthly tourism dashboard, the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) said soaring cost inflation is damaging business profitability and this combined with limited accommodation supply, means that despite strong demand there remains significant concern for the year ahead.
“It is evident that airport numbers are inflated by the Irish travelling abroad while hotel occupancy is inflated by humanitarian contracts,” said Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, Chief Executive of ITIC.
“The actual number of visitors to the country is still well down on pre-pandemic times and this is posing a major challenge for Irish tourism which is the country’s largest indigenous industry and biggest regional employer.”
The dashboard shows that 1.66 million tourists came to Ireland for the period April to June spending €1.96 billion here.
The most valuable market over the three months was North America, with visitors from there spending around €827m.
Britain was the biggest single source market, accounting for more than a third of visitors during the period.
There were 400,000 tourists from North America, 575,000 from Europe and 80,000 from long-haul markets.
The dashboard includes data for June issued by the Central Statistics Office, which resumed publishing inbound tourism statistics this week, after stopping during the pandemic when travel was curtailed.
ITIC also repeated its call for the Government to put off the scheduled 9% VAT increase on the sector, due to kick in at the start of September.
It has also urged the Government to come up with a different plan to house refugees and asylum seekers in order to free up beds in hotels and guesthouses for tourists once more.
“There are many tourist towns in the country without an adequate supply of tourist beds and therefore with very little tourist activity,” said Mr O’Mara Walsh.
One in every five tourism bedrooms is now no longer available to the tourists, with a resulting knock-on effect for other businesses dependent on tourists being able to stay in an area.