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Cities main beneficiaries from tourism boost – Westport hotelier

Westport hotelier has reservations about tourism boost

Áine Ryan

IF the tourism industry is a litmus test of economic recovery, then the omens are good. That is the view of Minister of State Michael Ring, who last week revealed that visitor numbers to the country were up by 11 per cent this year.
However, Westport hotelier and Mayo representative on the Irish Hotels Federation, Darren Madden, has warned that it is the larger cities that are benefiting the most from this upswing in the market.
Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday, Minister Ring said that Co Mayo had benefited significantly from the 2.1 million overseas visitors who came to Ireland during the peak June to August period this year.
According to the CSO, this was an increase of 6.1 per cent on the same period in 2010. The overall figures for the first eight months of 2011 show that 4.5 million tourists visited the country, an 11 per cent increase.

Influx from abroad
“It’s particularly encouraging to see a continued good performance from Great Britain as it remains our most important overseas market. Visits to Ireland from Great Britain rose by 4.8 per cent, at a time that outbound visits by UK residents are falling, showing that Ireland is gaining market share,” he continued.

Holidaying at home
Minister Ring  also welcomed the fact that more Irish people are choosing to holiday at home. “Irish people are enjoying Ireland’s own tourism product in greater numbers and many tourism spots here in Mayo offering great deals, the season is being extended,“ Minister Ring added.
On the other hand, Darren Madden, owner of the Clew Bay Hotel and Chairman of Destination Westport, said that occupancy was probably static in the Mayo region, while the town of Westport is faring better than other towns in the county.
“Certainly city breaks are up, particularly because of the business from the events centres in Dublin, but that is not being reflected throughout rural Ireland. I would temper these [CSO] figures due to the impact of the ash cloud on business last year,” Darren Madden said yesterday.
He said that with the reality of over-supply, and thus a very competitive market, there was still real pressure from European tour companies to decrease prices.