Tourism sector risks being left out of the market – The Irish Times

It’s been a torrid two years for Ireland’s critical tourism industry. So it’s strange to see him currently working to make his own future even more difficult.

Ireland is not a cheap destination for travellers; It hasn’t been that way for many years. But travelers have options, and if you simply price the product off the market, they’ll look elsewhere.

Conor Pope recently went looking for hotels for this newspaper. Looking at prices for next week’s bank holiday weekend, he was quoted over €1,300 for a three-day stay for two at Jurys Inn Christchurch. That’s more than €400 a night for a room in a hotel that could have improved from its modest economic roots but is still far from an “experience.” It is a functional city hotel.

In fairness to Jurys Inn, Conor noted that it was far from an outlier in terms of pricing.

The same goes for car rental. Everywhere you look, prices have gone up obscenely.

There are a number of factors at play, but they are common to the tourism sector here and elsewhere. Released from two years of intermittent lockdowns, people are looking for a break, and they have money to pay for it, having had little to spend it on during the pandemic. So there is an increase in demand.

But supply is limited, with the need to house both Ukrainian refugees and our own homeless families effectively taking a significant number of hotel rooms out of the Irish market.

Costs to the sector have also gone up in all sorts of ways: insurance, energy costs, food costs, staff costs, where can you find the staff, but those increases are well below the scale of rising prices.

Car rentals have their own specific problems, having sold off their fleets to survive the tough times only to find that supply chain crises mean they can’t scale back up fast enough to meet increased demand.

And yes, tourism businesses need to replenish their profits. But just because the lawsuit says you can multiply your charges and make supernormal profits, that doesn’t mean you have to, or even that it’s a good idea.

Tourists who put off coming to Ireland this year for cost reasons may well look elsewhere in the years to come. And if people can’t afford to rent a car, part of the state’s tourism sector outside of Dublin is deprived of the customers they so desperately need.

Tourism must have a longer-term vision; the sector cannot recoup all of its Covid losses in one year.

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