Tourism Ireland has just released its latest SOAR report (Situation & Outlook Analysis Report).

The report is extensive, and well worth a full read through, but here are the key takeaways for you!

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Firstly, let’s have a look at the hotel stats

  • STR reported that hotels across Ireland experienced moderate growth in terms of average daily rate in Q1 this year with occupancy declining slightly by 0.3%
  • Room sales increased by 2.7% for the Jan-March 2019 period
  • In Northern Ireland the average daily rate in Q1 this year declined by 4.9% while occupancy declined by 7.9%
  • Room sales in Northern Ireland increased by 2.8% for the Jan-March 2019 period
  • Although Q1 was disappointing for Northern Ireland accommodation providers, there are indications summer 2019 will be positive – more promotional initiatives will help this
  • Hotels across Ireland remain concerned about the impact of the VAT hike while their room rates, occupancy levels and room sales continue to grow
  • Self-catering and B&B sectors are reporting good bookings for the year ahead!

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How’s everything else affected?

  • Obviously the current situation with (seemingly never-ending) Brexit has bred uncertainty and it remains a concern for Tourism Ireland – something they will be monitoring closely! That being said, industry partners across Ireland are still optimistic about the year ahead
  • A number of airline/aircraft changes will affect the upcoming season – one being the grounding of the B737 MAX aircraft
  • However that being said, the air access outlook for summer 2019 in Ireland looks good. Air seat capacity to Ireland is set to grow by 4%
  • Ferry access is also projected to grow this summer by Irish Ferries!
  • There was an increase of 5.5% in arrivals into Ireland from Jan-March this year compared to the same time period in 2018. North America is up a staggering 10.8% and Mainland Europe is up 7.6%!
  • Based on things like tourism trends and economic prospects, the latest World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) forecast for 2019 predicts growth of 3-4% in international tourist arrivals worldwide – Europe itself is also set to see an increase of 3-4% tourists. Good news!
  • However turbulent things may feel now, believe it or not, the world’s economic growth is beginning to stabilise, and it’s being predicted that GDP will rise by 2.7% this year
  • The period Oct-Dec 2018 saw UK travellers make 14.5 million visits abroad, spending £9.2billion on these visits. Travel companies and airlines have been seeing weaker customer demand so far in 2019, attributing this to macroeconomic uncertainty. The decline in demand for European package holidays has led to significant price discounting this year so far.

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What does all this mean?

William Cotter, MD of Net Affinity says: “The Soar report makes for compelling reading and ties in with the trends we’re seeing in the Irish market.

Q1 2019 overall has performed in line with our expectations. The ongoing uncertainty around Brexit has affected both outbound and inbound UK business as we would’ve thought, and the relative weakness of sterling is making Ireland that bit more of an expensive ‘short break’ destination.

The increase in VAT is compounding our declining value proposition for both UK as well as domestic business. This weakening value proposition may in part explain the increase of circa 13.5% Irish visitors headed overseas in March 2019 v 2018, according to the CSO.

Whilst the key summer months look like they will produce strong results, the month of August is predicted to be less successful. With this in mind, we would like to guide clients who are seeing a similar pattern to look at yielding rates for August now, rather than in July.”

Read our tips on how to maximise your summertime revenue here.