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Economy

Good news as Galway’s hotels show return to profitability

Dara Bradley

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Galway’s hotels have enjoyed a surge in profits, according to a new survey that shows occupancy levels and rates have also increased.

The survey by Crowe Horwath, advisors to the hotel sector, showed that profits per room in the past year have soared by up to 28% along the western seaboard, including Galway.

It found that profits before tax per room here were €5,471, up from €4,278 in 2011.

This was higher than the average increase of 24 per cent for all hotels across the country.

The survey found that room rates per night have also increased, while occupancy rates are on the up as well.

The annual survey, with data collated earlier this year using 2012 figures, showed room occupancy in the west is up by four per cent, from 59 per cent to 63 per cent.

Annual room rates increased by five per cent in the same twelve months period, up from €58.93 to €61.87 – only Dublin showed a higher increase in rates.

According to the survey increases in both occupancy levels and room rates have helped drive increased profitability within the sector.

However, it was noted while the profit before tax has increased significantly it is important to remember that after a number of lean years it has been necessary for hotels to strengthen balance sheets to facilitate investment in rooms and other hotel facilities.

It noted that almost 40% of all Irish hotel rooms were built between 2000 and 2007 and many now require investment to maintain standards.

Economy

Food tourism: Galway gets taste of success

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Mike Kelly of Kelly's Oysters, Fergus O'Halloran of The Twelve Hotel and Catherine Nee of Marty's Fresh Shellfish are all taking part in a campaign to promote Ireland's seafood bounty.

A new seafood trail ‘Taste the Atlantic – a Seafood Journey’ will open up the Wild Atlantic Way to food tourism, and promote the best of Connemara seafood to visitors, says Fine Gael TD for Galway West, Sean Kyne.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara and Fáilte Ireland have joined together to launch ‘Taste the Atlantic – a Seafood Journey’, a new dedicated seafood trail located on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Restaurants that source their seafood from prestigious producers across Galway, Mayo and Clare are featured on the trail, including the Connemara Smokehouse, Kelly’s Oysters, Croagh Patrick Seafoods, Killary Fjord Shellfish, Keem Bay Fish, Marty’s Mussels and fishermen Gerry Sweeney and Gerard Hassett.

“Food tourism is a growing area and Connemara has so much to offer to visitors in this regard. This project is about highlighting the wonderful seafood on offer in the West of Ireland, but is also about giving people an insight into the production of this premium product,” said Deputy Kyne.

“This is an opportunity for people to learn of the commitment and passion that goes into putting a world class fresh and healthy product on people’s plates.”

Restaurants and smokehouses on the trail will be promoting the ‘Taste the Atlantic – a Seafood Journey’ with promotional materials supplied by Failte Ireland and all seafood on their menus will list the featured seafood producers.

Chefs and front of house staff on the trail are receiving training, including on-site trips to the local mussel and oyster farms to build and improve their knowledge of seafood and to advise the chefs in particular, how to plan a seafood menu within their allocated budget.

“The number of overseas visitors to Ireland is up over 11% for the first six months 2015. This is the best ever result on record for the period January to June. The Wild Atlantic Way has been a great success but we must continue to innovate in order to attract visitors,” said Deputy Kyne.

“This new seafood trail is a great example of this, attracting visitors to the Wild Atlantic Way for a very specific reason. The planned improved visitor experience at the Connemara Discovery Point at Derrygimlagh is going to be another innovative attraction, telling visitors the story of the Marconi Wireless station and the first non-stop transatlantic flight taken by Alcock and Browe in 1919.

“It’s these kinds of attractions that will ensure the continued success of the Wild Atlantic Way and show off the best of what the West of Ireland has to offer,” he added. BIM has commissioned a special promotional video to highlight the seafood trail which shows the seafood, the producers and the local scenery off to great effect. C

heck out www.bim.ie to watch the video and learn more about the new seafood trail.

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Economy

Tourism focus is tilted to west of the county

Declan Tierney

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The Shannon at Portumna would benefit from investment in tourism according to local councillors

Fáilte Ireland has come under fire amid claims that the state agency has ignored the north and east of the county while continually focusing in Connemara.

The criticism of the organisation came when it was announced that €1.8 million was to be invested in a tourism project for West Galway.

But members of Galway County Council from the other side of the county were openly critical of Failte Ireland who they blamed for a lack of investment in tourism projects. The charge was led by Cllr Jimmy McClearn from Killimor who said that north and east Galway had been ignored by Failte Ireland over the years.

“We are being forgotten about time after time. The buzz words at the moment seem to be the Wild Atlantic Way and if you are not on that route, then forget about it.

“They have failed miserably to invest in potential tourism projects in this part of the county. We have become the poor relation when it comes to Tourism,” Cllr McClearn said. He added that Lough Derg had huge potential for South East Galway but there was no investment or development from a Fáilte Ireland point of view.

“They are getting away with it. In Ballinasloe there is one of the finest waterways in Ireland but yet it is largely ignored by this body,” Cllr McClearn added.

Cllr Timmy Broderick pointed out that there was a greenway being provided between Athlone and Galway city along the old N4 national primary route. But he said that similar proposals had not been mooted for areas north of the national greenway and added that East Galway had been forgotten about when it came to tourism.

However, Director of Services Liam Gavin said that it was envisaged that there would be ‘looped cycle pathways’ off the national cycle route and that this was part of the strategy.

But Cllr Anne Rabbitte from Portumna said that the Council needed to sit down with Bord Fáilte and the National Roads Authority so that facilities that are available in East Galway could be harnessed and promoted from a tourism point of view.

According to Cllr Pete Roche from Abbeyknockmoy, every town and village in the county had something to offer visitors and he agreed that Bord Fáilte were not doing enough for other parts of Galway.

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Economy

City firm to fore of new healthcare research

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EU Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn officially opened Medtronic’s new Customer Innovation Centre in Galway this week.

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