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The Germans are going nuts for Ireland and the Wild Atlantic Way

Tourism operators report their best summer since the Celtic Tiger years.

The Wild Atlantic Way has been named as a big drawcard for tourists headed west.
The Wild Atlantic Way has been named as a big drawcard for tourists headed west.

A GOLDEN SUMMER for tourism operators has led to the most positive results for the sector since the Celtic Tiger years.

Businesses have reported strong growth in their German and US visitors on the back of successful sales pitches for regions like the west coast’s Wild Atlantic Way.

But not all operators have been sharing in the spoils of the extra visitor dollars with restaurants and some accommodation providers underwhelmed with their 2014 results.

The latest survey from Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism agency, found nearly three quarters of tourism business were feeling good about their prospects – the highest level since before 2007.

Only 8% said business was down, compared to 74% in 2009.

Fáilte Ireland said the tourism recovery was taking hold across the country and responses from businesses in the southwest had been particularly strong.

Across that region 84% said trade was up, while 83% of operators in Dublin reported positive sentiment in the August and September survey.

The southeast was the worst-performed area with only 68% of businesses saying their trade had improved.

Tourism Tourism business survey 2014. Source: Fáilte Ireland

Who’s coming and what are they doing?

Tourism operators reported the biggest growth in visitors from Germany and the US, the survey said.

Trade from UK visitors was also making a return but growth in British visitors still lagged the leading countries.

Businesses close to the Wild Atlantic Way hailed its marketing as a big success, particularly in drawing Germans to the region – although those further afield complained they were missing out in all the attention given to the coastal stretch.

gc365day33 The Wild Atlantic Way. Source: Greg Clarke

Hotels were the biggest winners from the boost in trade with 82% reporting more business in 2014 than the same time last year, however restaurants and self-catering accommodation operators were less buoyant.

Only 50% of restaurants said they had done better this year and 20% said their business had gone down.

Tourism 2 Source: Fáilte Ireland

Tourism is back

Fáilte Ireland chief executive Shaun Quinn said tourism was back but it had been a “very hard-won recovery”.

“It has taken a mixture of sacrifice and innovation by many operators – as well as far-sighted Government support for the sector – to make Ireland a competitive destination again,” he said.

The danger now for tourism would be to allow complacency to creep back in. To sustain this year’s growth, we need to remain competitive, build on our appeal and continue to aggressively target those segments of our markets with the most potential”.

READ: Tourism Ireland’s clever new ad campaign for Dublin involves getting the shift

READ: Rural Ireland: ‘The life has gone out of it. Even 20 or 30 jobs would give the place a lift’

About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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