Fáilte Ireland says that for the first time in three years it is optimistic about the prospects for the tourism sector this year.
There is an expectation that business from the domestic and foreign markets will increase in 2012. However, the agency has warned that there is no room for complacency and says increasing value for money must be the top priority.
2011 saw an increase of almost 6% in the number of overseas visitors here.
Fáilte Ireland’s annual report says this trend should continue, once the industry continues to pay close attention to costs. Ireland is seen as a better value destination than in previous years, particularly by French and German visitors.
Over 70% of businesses have reduced prices while increasing their marketing efforts and Fáilte Ireland says the sluggishness that crept in during the boom has been replaced by an innovative and flexible approach. Boosting visits from the British market remains a key priority.
It said that while the perception of value has been an issue for British visitors in recent years, better offers from the trade and a weakening of the euro have helped. The perceived value of eating out, drink and the cost of living also improved significantly in 2011, Fáilte Ireland said.
The agency is upbeat about the prospects of increasing visitor numbers from the US and continental Europe and says there are strong indications that Irish people will holiday at home in greater numbers than ever before this year.
Fáilte Ireland’s CEO, Shaun Quinn, said the tourism industry was now in good shape to fight for business in the year ahead.
But he warned that tourism is an export business and one whose fortunes are heavily influenced by consumer confidence.
”Any downturn in the global economy – or even significant fears about a downturn – has the potential to undermine the fragile recovery made so far in Irish tourism”, he said.