Tourism businesses have warned of a slow return to normal visitor levels with 60 per cent of accommodation providers stating they are down on overseas bookings for the summer compared to pre-Covid levels.
As the Irish Examiner reports, Fáilte Ireland found two-thirds of businesses said foreign tourist levels so far in 2022 were less than in a “normal” year.
The survey of over 730 tourism businesses conducted last month also found 40 per cent had reported a decrease in domestic visitors in the year to date.
A similar proportion said domestic bookings for the rest of the summer were down on normal levels. At the same time, 30 per cent had reported an increase in trade from Irish holidaymakers, while 30 per cent said it had remained at the same level.
Fáilte Ireland said many businesses in the tourism sector were facing challenges with recruitment as 87 per cent had said they were finding it hard to hire staff.
However, the national tourism development authority said employers were addressing the issue with seven in 10 stating they had increased pay rates, while a similar proportion were offering more flexible work patterns with two-thirds providing more predictable work schedules.
Fáilte Ireland said the survey’s findings on recruitment challenges seemed to fit its national “Works for Me” media campaign designed to attract parents and retirees back into the industry.
The survey indicated that some operators were concerned about maintaining high standards due to the high proportion of new staff with Dublin businesses and activity providers reporting that almost half of their employees were new to the industry.
They said jobs involved in the preparation of food and drink were particularly hard to fill leaving more than 80 per cent of hotels and restaurants struggling to recruit chefs and wait staff.
It also noted that the vast majority of tourism businesses were concerned about rising operational and energy costs.
“This gives operators the dilemma of putting up prices to levels which visitors can’t afford or would see as poor value for money, or maintaining prices which is not sustainable,” said Fáilte Ireland.
While most tourism businesses had reopened after a winter resurgence of Covid, it said the industry was “not operating at anywhere close to capacity.”
Only 3 per cent of businesses remain closed but expected to reopen in the future, while 1 per cent had ceased trading permanently.