Staff shortages in the hotel and restaurant sectors remain key challenges in the tourism industry while energy costs are continuing to impact on profitability as the summer season gets into full swing around Ireland, according to a survey of businesses by Fáilte Ireland.
The organisation’s latest Tourism Barometer results suggest there is general optimism regarding activity levels over the coming months with an expectation that the number of visitors from overseas will increase and business will be better than last year but costs are a big concern with 39 per cent of respondents saying profitability is down so far on 2022.
Overall, 53 per cent of businesses say they have had more visitors in the early months of this year compared to 21 per cent who have had fewer but while more than two thirds of hotel operators report increased average room yields, 43 per cent say profitability is actually down.
That figure reaches 55 per cent among restaurants and bars.
Tour and coach operators are far more positive with more than two thirds reporting increased profitability amid a reported growth in the number of overseas visitors, especially from the United States.
Asked about their concerns for their businesses this year, 75 per cent of all respondents cite energy costs, 72 per cent other rising costs and 50 per cent the general squeeze on disposable income among the population.
Across the sector, 37 per cent highlight difficulties recruiting staff but this figures is much higher among those running restaurants and hotels with 71 per cent and 63 per cent respectively of owners/managers listing it as a significant concern. A shortage of chefs appears to be a particular issue.
The cost and availability of car hire is the other most referenced concern while 25 per cent of respondents point to the impact of public contracts for hospitality beds, which are being used to provide accommodation for refugees and international protection applicants.
Overall, more than half of the businesses surveyed believe they will have a better year this year than they did last year with optimism especially strong among those running attractions or activities or providing accommodation.
Those running pubs and restaurants are the least optimistic about the coming months with only 40 per cent expecting business to be up with more than a third suggesting they think it will be down on 2022.
The report suggests that that tourism in Dublin is continuing to rebound especially strongly from the pandemic but particular issues are raised buy business operators in the capital with almost a quarter, 23 per cent, citing antisocial behaviour as a problem while the a drop off in business among restaurants due to the number of people living locally working from home is pointed to as a real threat to sustainability.