Supporting Local News

State has taken more than one third of tourist beds in Galway

Over one third of tourist beds in Galway are estimated to be contracted to the State, casting a long shadow over this year’s tourism season.

Fáilte Ireland has warned that activity providers, visitor attractions, hospitality businesses and retailers in areas where refugees are being accommodated will have their business survival put at significant risk.

Manager of the Galway leg of the Wild Atlantic Way, Margaret Jenkins, said the State body estimates that the this will cost the non-accommodation tourism sectors nationally over €1.1billion in lost revenues this year.

A significant amount of this will be experienced in rural areas such as County Galway.

“While we are hopeful for a strong summer season, there are many challenges facing the tourism sector that will have an impact on rural Ireland particularly. Up to 35% of all registered tourism bed stock outside Dublin is now contracted to the State and is not available to tourists.”

Nationally, domestic travel has bounced back in 2022 to surpass pre-pandemic levels. According to the CSO Household travel survey for the final three months of last year, 13.3 million domestic trips were taken by Irish residents last year, which was 14% up on 2019.

Expenditure at €2.93 billion was more than a third ahead of pre-pandemic levels.

Volume and expenditure on holiday and leisure trips was up 14% and 39% respectively up on 2019 levels. Galway and Kerry increased in popularity for domestic trips – based on nights spent – in 2022 compared to 2019.

Fáilte Ireland claims the staffing situation this year has improved on 2022. But the labour market remains very tight, particularly as peak season approaches, said Ms Jenkins.

“Better pay, enhanced terms and conditions and an improved workplace environment has helped the industry retain and attract staff. We’re also seeing strong uptake of Fáilte Ireland Tourism Careers initiatives, particularly our Employer Excellence programme which has been developed to help tourism businesses continuously build the appeal of their workplace.”

The Connemara and Islands Destination Experience Development Plans (DEDP) set up in 2018 to extend the tourist season is continuing to hold quarterly meetings of its over 30 stakeholders.

For this year, it will focus on rolling out the rest of the Connemara Greenway and creating looped walking and cycling trails off the greenway and Connemara National Park. They will also concentrate on launching a suite of themed trails for Connemara around film, sheep and wool as well as arts and crafts.

The development of Gaeltacht experiences for adults is another priority area for the Connemara and Islands Tourism Network (CAITN) will is responsible for driving the plan.

“A review in 2022 of the progress of the DEDP shows that approximately 80% of the actions recommended are either complete or in progress,” said Ms Jenkins.

A similar five-year plan for Galway City is currently being developed. It will identify the projects that will make a sustainable difference for the destination and grow the number of reasons why visitors will consider Galway as a destination.

Fáilte Ireland has invited partners and stakeholders to complete a short survey compiled by Repucon Consulting detailing their ideas for tourism in Galway City and outlining projects they may be considering over the coming years.

A draft plan is expected in by the end of 2023.

Earlier this month 110 tourism business from the city and Connemara attended a networking event to reinforce the benefits of collaboration and cross selling among ventures along the Wild Atlantic Way.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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