Double Whammy for Hard Hit Tourism Trade

Photographed left to right are: Margaret O’Conor, Head of Business Banking AIB Kerry, Ciara O’Grady, Lets Talk Tourism, Michael Rosney, Skal International, Niamh O’Shea IHF Kerry, Joan McCarthy, Kerry County Council and Paul O’Neil Killarney Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. Photograph by Sally MacMonagle

A major gathering of tourism industry professionals in Killarney will be told that hotels, restaurants and hospitality businesses will really feel the brunt of the 4.5% hike in tourism VAT imposed in the Budget as potential customers will stay away because of sharply rising costs.

International tourism analyst, Noel Sweeney, said it will lead to a “double whammy” for already hard hit businesses who are also facing into the uncertainty of Brexit and the likely impact it will have on their trade.

British Market Declining

“It will be very difficult for those relying on the British market which has already been declining in the last 18 months. In terms of our value for money rating, we are facing into a very uncertain 2019 as Sterling won’t buy as much in Ireland,” Mr Sweeney said.

He will be one of the keynote speakers at the third annual Let’s Talk Tourism forum in Killarney on November 9 at which the industry will take stock and plot how best to overcome the blow of the 4.5% VAT increase.

VAT Rise to Hit Hard

As CEO of Tourism and Transport Consult, Mr. Sweeney has advised public and private sector clients worldwide on policy and strategic issues and he is firmly of the opinion that the VAT increase will make life particularly difficult for businesses outside of Dublin and in tourism hotspots like Kerry.

“Before the minister made that decision he should have had a look at areas during the months of February or November. The VAT rise is going to hit hard – it’s a very significant blow,” he insisted.

Extension Plans Abandoned

The respected tourism analyst said businesses like small hotels that might have been planning to invest €500,000 in an extension to their property will more than likely abandon those plans in the wake of the Budget and that will have a knock-on impact.

“Even if a couple cuts back on the number of meals they have out, because of rising costs, the VAT intake for the Government won’t increase. It was very short-sighted,” Mr Sweeney said.

He said it was “a false argument” to complain that hotels in Dublin were over-priced as it’s all about supply and demand.

Impact of Brexit

“There’s a shortage of bednights in the city and, compared to other European cities, it’s by no means the most expensive. Dublin was probably under-priced for years,” Mr Sweeney stated.

Other issues down for discussion at the Let’s Talk Tourism forum include the impact of Brexit, learning from other markets, strategies for sustainable growth and the opportunities presented by the China market.

Minister Brendan Griffin

Guest speakers will include Deirdre Wells, OBE, of the UK Tourism Industry Council and CEO of UKinbound, Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly, Tourism Northern Ireland chief John McGrillen, Ryanair’s Peter Bellew, Mark Henry of Tourism Ireland, Yvonne Holmes, AIB, and Minister of State for Tourism, Brendan Griffin.

More Information Available

The event is organised by the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotels Federation, SKAL International, Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland with support from AIB and Kerry County Council.

For full information on the National Tourism Forum go to

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