HomeIrish NewsIHF Annual Conference Focuses on Sustainable Recovery

IHF Annual Conference Focuses on Sustainable Recovery

Securing a long-term sustainable recovery in tourism was centre stage today as hoteliers gathered in Killarney for the Irish Hotels Federation’s (IHF) 85th Annual Conference. 

Speaking at the opening of the conference, IHF President Denyse Campbell saidthat tourism has witnessed unprecedented upheavals over the past three years with a number of challenges still remaining.

Ms Campbell said: While we saw a welcome uplift in tourism activity during the last six months of 2022, significant uncertainty persists this year in relation to the global economy – particularly given the challenges we face around the cost of doing business, high levels of inflation, increasing interest rates and an ongoing cost-of-living crisis across key overseas markets.”

Sustainable Development – A Shared Vision is the theme of the Irish Hotels Federation’s 2023 Annual Conference taking place March 6th and 7th at Great Southern Killarney, Kerry. Pictured are Denyse Campbell, President and Tim Fenn, CEO

A particular concern for hoteliers and the wider tourism industry is the outlook for bookings from Britain given the very challenging economic environment this market is facing. 

Traditionally Ireland’s largest source of overseas visitors, Britain continues to face very significant economic headwinds, and this is having an impact on the outlook and levels of forward bookings.

According to recent industry research carried out by the IHF, 60% of hoteliers report that forward bookings from Britain are still down on pre-Covid levels. The rest of Europe is also challenging while the prospects for North America are brighter this year.

Despite lingering economic uncertainty, hoteliers remain focused on recovery and building on progress made in the second half of 2022 with 54% of hotels and guesthouses planning to increase employment levels this year.

Ms Campbell said: “At the heart of every successful hotel and guesthouse are its people, and supporting and developing them is key to our long-term success. We are encouraging people of all ages to consider a career in the hotel sector. There are an enormous variety of career paths and training opportunities that are constantly evolving in our sector. It is an ideal time given the wide range of exciting options available for people at every stage of their working lives.”

Ms Campbell said that, since the lifting of restrictions in 2022, the industry has achieved a remarkable restoration in employment with over 250,000 livelihoods now supported by tourism businesses throughout the country including 60,000 employed directly by Irish hotels and guesthouses.

Meanwhile 85% of hotels are planning to invest in refurbishment and additional capital expenditure over the coming year – making up for lost ground since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

Ms Campbell noted that sustainability is a major focus for the sector with 67% of hotels planning to invest in sustainability initiatives this year while a further 25% are actively exploring options for potential investment in this area. Key priorities include renewable energy and heating, energy efficiency, retrofitting of buildings, waste reduction and water conservation.

Ms Campbell said: Needless to say, our industry has been through an exceptionally difficult period, but we are now beginning to see a cautious optimism for tourism as hotels look to invest in their businesses and product development this year with a particular emphasis on investing in our people, sustainability and business development.” 

Geoff Percival
Geoff Percival
Geoff has worked in business, news, consumer and travel journalism for more than 25 years; having worked for and contributed to the likes of The Irish Examiner, Business & Finance, Business Plus, The Sunday Times, The Irish News, Senior Times, and The Sunday Tribune.

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