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Kerry Hoteliers upbeat for 2018

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Hotel and guesthouse owners in Kerry and across the country are reporting a good start to the year according to an industry survey undertaken by the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) in advance of its 80th Annual Conference in the Slieve Russell Hotel, Co Cavan. Most are forecasting an increase in business levels for 2018 with advance bookings up from domestic and key overseas markets, helping to offset the drop in bookings from the UK, Ireland’s largest market, where visitor numbers continue to fall.  The high cost of doing business, including insurance, continues to be a major concern.

Seven in ten (72%) hoteliers say their overall business levels are up compared to this time last year, with a similar number (68%) reporting an increase in advance bookings for the remainder of the year. Business levels from the US look set to remain strong with over half of hoteliers surveyed reporting an increase in business from this market. Visitor numbers are up too from continental Europe with almost a third (32%) reporting an increase in business from Germany and nearly a quarter (23%) seeing a rise from France. Closer to home the domestic market remains buoyant with almost seven in ten (67%) of hoteliers seeing an increase in home-grown business. However, in contrast, the UK market remains a significant concern with over half (56%) of hoteliers reporting a drop in business from Great Britain compared to this time last year and almost four in ten seeing a drop from Northern Ireland.

Patrick O’Donoghue, Chair, Kerry branch of the Irish Hotels Federation said that overall hoteliers are confident about the outlook for 2018, but not complacent. “The increase in business levels that we are seeing from key international markets and from within Ireland itself, following on from strong growth in recent years, gives us some confidence. However, the negative effect on visitor numbers from the weakened sterling and uncertainty over Brexit reminds us that we’re an island nation, dependent on the vagaries of other, larger economies, and there is never room for complacency,” he said. Tourism currently supports 11,900 jobs in Kerry and contributes some €508 million to the local economy annually.

“We operate in a price sensitive sector where we compete with the UK for overseas visitors. A sustained fall in sterling could have a negative effect on visitor numbers from other markets who may opt instead to go to the UK. Cost-competitiveness is critical. Government cannot influence the economic conditions affecting other countries but there is a wide policy range of measures within their control that can enhance competitiveness. The 9% VAT rate and zero travel tax, for example, have been hugely significant in underpinning the recovery of the tourism sector.  However, more needs to be done to bring down the high costs that are stifling business in Ireland such as insurance, where the costs are now so high they are a significant concern for almost nine in ten hoteliers (88%),” he said.

Mr O’Donoghue added, “It is important that there is a continued commitment to enhancing and developing the experiences that we offer visitors - from at home and overseas. The hotel sector has an important role to play here and, as our member survey highlights, most hoteliers across the country are planning to invest in their properties this year – from expansion in some cases, to refurbishment, or investing in new technology to upgrade existing operational and guest services.

“But, it’s also about market diversification and reinvigorating our tourism brand, to create compelling offers that appeal to new markets while at the same time helping us to consolidate our market share in existing markets. More needs to be done, especially in regional tourism marketing. There are parts of the country like the Shannon Corridor, which have much to offer and with the right support they could expand Ireland’s tourism offering and greatly benefit the rural economy,” he added. According to the IHF survey, two thirds of hoteliers are already planning to increase their own marketing spend during 2018 in a bid to attract more visitors to their areas.

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Future Kerry railway plans revealed

By Sean Moriarty Elected members of Kerry County Council have led calls for Iarnród Éireann’s timetable to fall into line with airline schedule at Kerry Airport. On Monday of this week Barry Kenny of Iarnród Éireann gave a presentation to elected members of the council. During the meeting he outlined some of the railway company’s plans […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Elected members of Kerry County Council have led calls for Iarnród Éireann’s timetable to fall into line with airline schedule at Kerry Airport.

On Monday of this week Barry Kenny of Iarnród Éireann gave a presentation to elected members of the council.

During the meeting he outlined some of the railway company’s plans and ambitions from now until 2027.

These include an increase in frequency on the Tralee to Mallow line.

It is hoped to have one train an hour operating on the line at peak times and two-hourly off-peak.

In a perfect world, the rail station at Farranfore would be placed across the road from the airport and not a 1km walk away but such a move is not likely to happen.

Cllr Norma Moriarty, of the Kenmare Municipal District explained how she was on trip to Yorkshire a few years ago.

“I flew from Kerry to Manchester and was able to get a connecting train to Yorkshire without ever leaving the airport building,” she said. “The people I was visiting were very surprised to hear me talk about this so much – it is normal to them.”

Under the Strategy 2027 plan Killarney rail station will get repainted and new signs will be put in place during 2022.

Additional parking spaces will be created at Farranfore Railway station and this lead to calls for a similar expansion at Rathmore.

“A lot of people from South Kerry use Rathmore railway station,” said local councillor Niall Kelleher. “They drive up from Kenmare and cut across by Glenflesk.”

Mr Kenny said he would take the Rathmore comments back to the Iarnród Éireann engineer in charge of parking strategy.

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Walking and cycling projects set for upgrade 

Commuters and nature enthusiasts will benefit from €4.13m in funding allocated to Kerry County Council for walking and cycling projects. €350,000 has been allocated for Transport/Mobility Plans for Killarney, Tralee and Listowel. Locally €704,835 is being given towards an interconnected network of cycleways on Rock Road, while there’s €70,000 funding for the Deerpark Road/Gealscoil Junction to include […]

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Commuters and nature enthusiasts will benefit from €4.13m in funding allocated to Kerry County Council for walking and cycling projects.

€350,000 has been allocated for Transport/Mobility Plans for Killarney, Tralee and Listowel.

Locally €704,835 is being given towards an interconnected network of cycleways on Rock Road, while there’s €70,000 funding for the Deerpark Road/Gealscoil Junction to include an interconnected network of cycleways. €300,000 is planned for an interconnected network of cycleways for the Gaelscoil Road/Chestnut Drive area, while The Flesk Walkway and Cycleway, Killarney is to get €123,866, as well as a further €186,527 for Rock Road.

Deputy Government Chief Whip, Brendan Griffin TD has said the funding from the National Transport Authority (NTA) will deliver high quality upgrades to walking and cycling infrastructure, with sustainable transport modes vital as the county emerges from the pandemic.

“I am pleased that Kerry County Council has been awarded funding which is part of an overall total of €289 million for approximately 1,200 Active Travel projects across the country,” Deputy Griffin said.

“Ensuring we have a good and efficient transport system in Kerry is essential for the future as we aim to make our communities and town centres more vibrant, in addition to making commuting to work and school safer and easier. Over the past two years we have spent more time enjoying our outdoor amenities and investing in active travel will also help us to meet our climate change obligations.”

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