Dublin was “effectively full” on 145 days last year because of a lack of bed capacity, the chief executive of Fáilte Ireland has said.
Paul Kelly said the “pipeline” of hotels in development would ease the situation but that the capital would still be short of about 1,000 beds by 2020.
Speaking before the Oireachtas committee on tourism, which was considering the impact of Brexit, Paul Kelly said that AirBnb had been “very welcome” in providing increased capacity. He said the impact of future restrictions on short-term lettings, announced recently by the Government , was yet to be assessed.
Mr Kelly said the tourism industry had already begun to feel the impact of Brexit and that out-of-the way areas with shorter tourism seasons were likely to be hit hardest.
He said that since the Brexit referendum the UK pound had effectively been devalued, which was a significant factor in a 5 per cent reduction in the number of visitors from Britain last year and a 3 per cent fall from Northern Ireland.
He said a “no deal Brexit” was likely to have “significant negative impacts for Irish Tourism” and while this would effect “Ireland as a whole”, it would be “particularly felt in some regional areas where there are few alternatives to replace the economic benefits generated by tourism”.
Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said the organisation was proceeding on the basis that a deal on Brexit would be done.
Mr Gibbon said that while tourism performance overall was strong, some “vulnerabilities were evident”.
“For example,” he said “while we welcome the small increase in visitor numbers from Britain in recent months it is too soon to know if this represents a real turnaround in the longer term,” he said.
“CSO data shows a worrying fall of 9 per cent for the month of September alone. Exchange rate movements have made Ireland more expensive for British visitors. And, we have observed our competitors, VisitBritain, VisitScotland and VisitWales, intensifying their operations across all of Ireland’s major tourism markets”.
He said Tourism Ireland continued to pursue its strategy of market diversification which focused on markets with a longer stay and higher spend and “will increasingly focus on the regional and seasonal extension of tourism”.
“Our market diversification has seen Mainland Europe become the largest contributor of overseas tourism revenue delivering almost €1.9 billion in 2017, up from €1.4 billion in 2014, up 34 per cent. North America has overtaken Britain as number two, delivering €1.6 billion, up from €1 billion in 2014, an increase of 60 per cent,” he said,
He said it was already clear that the common travel area, and free movement of overseas visitors across the border, was vitally important, especially for overseas tourism to Northern Ireland and the Border counties.
“On average, 75 per cent of visitors from North America to Northern Ireland and 63 per cent of visitors from Europe arrive via the Republic,” he said