tourism Archives - Pat Carroll PCCO - Chartered Accountants & Tax Advisors

Tourism industry says VAT deferral scheme vital

The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) has said a VAT deferral scheme is vital to alleviate serious cashflow pressures in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

The representative body said immediate action is critical because thousands of jobs are at stake due to the volume of cancellations and lack of future bookings.

“Coronavirus is first and foremost a public health issue but the business and economic implications are stark,” said Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, CEO of ITIC.

“We fear that thousands of tourism jobs will be lost in the next few weeks and are urging Government to do all within its power to support the county’s largest indigenous industry and biggest regional employer.”

In order to alleviate cashflow pressures, ITIC has called for VAT payments due on March 19th to be deferred for tourism and hospitality businesses.

This happened during the Foot and Mouth Crisis in 2001.

The call was backed by other industry groups, including the Irish Hotels Federation, the Restaurants Association of Ireland, the Association of Visitor Experiences and Attractions and other ITIC members.

The call came as new data released by the Central Statistics Office today showed the number of overseas trips made to Ireland rose just 1.8% last year.

In total 10.808 million visitors came here during the 12 months, compared to 10.616 a year earlier.

Those travelers from abroad stayed a combined 70.4m nights here, down 0.7% on 2018.

The tourists spent a total of €6.867bn in the Irish economy during the year, down 0.1% on the same period the year before.

Fares accounted for €5.101bn of that, a drop of 0.9%.

The small increase in visitor numbers and reduction in spending is a consequence of lower volumes of tourists coming from the UK as a result of Brexit uncertainty and a decline in tourists from the US.

“Our focus now is very much on 2020,” said Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland.

“The outbreak and spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus) is having a significant impact on travel and presents an unprecedented and extremely serious situation for Irish tourism.”

“2020 was already going to be a challenging year for tourism, with issues like Brexit and the delayed delivery of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft; Covid-19 is an extremely serious development which is affecting all of our key source markets.”

“We are in daily contact with our tourism industry partners and we know that they are reporting significant cancellations and very few new bookings.”

“We continue to monitor the situation closely and are reviewing our promotional activity on a market by market basis and on a daily basis. Tourism Ireland will be ready to roll out an extensive kick-start programme, when the time is right.”

During the final three months of the year, the volume of overseas trips to Ireland by non-residents did increase 0.5%, to 2.425m.

The number of nights spend here by visitors was 0.4% lower though compared to the last quarter of 2018.

The average time spent here by foreign visitors who came during the last four months of the year was 6.2 nights compared to 6.3 nights a year earlier.

Earnings from overseas tourists during the period were €1.378bn, down 1.6%.

Trips by Irish residents travelling abroad rose 2.8% over the quarter compared to the same four months in 2018.

On average, Irish people who went away during the period travelled for 6.5 nights.

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Costs and competitiveness a key focus for tourism industry

The tourism industry needs to focus on costs and competitiveness as the sector faces into choppier waters in the years ahead, according to the head of the national tourism development authority, Fáilte Ireland.

Paul Kelly said the industry had to avoid complacency against a backdrop of a softening in demand.

“We absolutely need to keep our focus on competitiveness. There are a lot of cost pressures there. The issue of insurance costs has been well publicised, but there are other inflationary pressures, like wages, that businesses are facing,” Mr Kelly said. 

“We do need to make sure that we’re absolutely not complacent. There is a softening in demand,” he added.

Mr Kelly described last year as ‘mixed’ from a tourism performance perspective.

Brexit uncertainty was a big factor, but there were issues around delays in aircraft being made available and a softening in the German market.

“This is very important from an overall economy point of view. Tourism is a labour intensive industry. A 1% decline in tourism can lead to a drop in 2,500 jobs. Small changes in revenue can make a big difference in absolute job numbers,” Mr Kelly explained.

He said the effect of job losses could be particularly acute in rural and regional areas where it would be hard to find alternative employment.

“Things are more challenging in rural Ireland. Dublin and the big cities have the corporate market with business travel helping to sustain them. Rural Ireland certainly relies more on the holiday maker.”

Paul Kelly said the clarity provided by the Brexit transition phase after the UK leaves the EU as scheduled next week was welcome.

However, he said there were still big questions about what happens after the transition phase ends in December.

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Costs and competitiveness a key focus for tourism industry

The tourism industry needs to focus on costs and competitiveness as the sector faces into choppier waters in the years ahead.

That’s according to the head of the national tourism development authority, Fáilte Ireland.

Paul Kelly said the industry had to avoid complacency against a backdrop of a softening in demand.

“We absolutely need to keep our focus on competitiveness. There are a lot of cost pressures there. The issue of insurance costs has been well publicised, but there are other inflationary pressures, like wages, that businesses are facing. 

“We do need to make sure that we’re absolutely not complacent. There is a softening in demand.”

Mr Kelly described last year as ‘mixed’ from a tourism performance perspective.

Brexit uncertainty was a big factor, but there were issues around delays in aircraft being made available and a softening in the German market.

“This is very important from an overall economy point of view. Tourism is a labour intensive industry. A 1% decline in tourism can lead to a drop in 2,500 jobs. Small changes in revenue can make a big difference in absolute job numbers.”

He said the effect of job losses could be particularly acute in rural and regional areas where it would be hard to find alternative employment.

“Things are more challenging in rural Ireland. Dublin and the big cities have the corporate market with business travel helping to sustain them. Rural Ireland certainly relies more on the holiday maker.”

Paul Kelly said the clarity provided by the Brexit transition phase after the UK leaves the EU as scheduled next week was welcome.

However, he said there were still big questions about what happens after the transition phase ends in December.

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Tourism industry looking to woo more Chinese visitors

Tourism industry looking to woo more Chinese visitors

Irish tourist service providers are being urged to take steps to attract more visitors from China in order to offset any drop in numbers coming here from the UK after Brexit.

Fáilte Ireland is running a series of workshops around the country that aim to teach people about what tourists from China want when they visit Ireland.

“Irish businesses are very much interested in finding out about the culture,” said Wynne Liu, CEO of Emerald Media and trainer at the seminars.

“We come across so many challenges, such as language barriers, do we know their culture, do we understand their body language and how can we better provide them with a pleasant experience?”

The half-day programme offers attendees introduction to the language, cultural background and an introduction to the Chinese economy.

They also get instruction and tips on how to use Chinese social media, particularly WeChat, which is the most popular platform in that country but is different to Twitter and Facebook.

In 2017 there were up to 75,000 visitors came from China to Ireland, up from 44,000 in 2014. Fáilte Ireland projects that by 2025, that figure will have grown to 175,000.

The growth is being propelled by the addition in recent times of a number of direct flight services betweek China and Ireland.

“People are looking for experience,” said Ms Liu.

“Of course everyone coming here will have a top-ten must see places in Ireland and then they will go sight seeing.

They will also take the opportunity to enjoy some authentic Irish cuisines. Food also plays a very important part in the Chinese culture so people like to try different things.”

“Mid-to-upper class we find that they will travel more frequently throughout Europe. They also will spend some time doing alot more shopping buying souveneirs, Irish made produce as well as presents and gifts and bring them back to present to their friends, colleagues or families.”

Among those who have attended the training are representatives from Roly’s Bistro, the popular restaurant in Ballsbridge in Dublin.

Although it continues to offer traditional Irish food made from local ingredients, the restaurant has translated its menu to make it easier for Chinese guests to understand.

The establishment also offers Chinese diners the option of having the food served the way they are used to at home.

“They like to eat family style, they like to have everything together,” said Paul Cartwright, Head Chef and director at Roly’s.

“They bring starters, soups, main courses at the same time and they all tuck in together.”

Food is also presented in a way that offers a story, both behind the dishes themselves as well as what they are served in and on.

The restaurant is also starting to connect with Chinese visitors using WeChat.

The Chinese market is seen as holding huge potential, with 116 million people travelling worldwide from China in 2016, spending $160 billion in the process.

However, Fáilte Ireland says it is important that those providing services here are aware of the cultural differences between Ireland and China.

For example, the number four is associated with death in China, so hotels are advised not to allocate rooms with this number in them to Chinese guests.

However, 6, 9, and 9 are considered lucky and should be assigned where possible, according to the tourism organisation.

Those working in gift shops are also urged to offer small gifts with every purchase by a Chinese visitor as it is considered a sign of appreciation for their custom.

“Photo-stops” are also a good idea at visitor attractions as Chinese tourists love to take photos, it says.

Meanwhile, a record 26 Irish tourism companies – including 13 first-timers – will travel to China next month, to take part in Tourism Ireland’s 2019 sales mission.

The companies were briefed today by Tourism Ireland, ahead of the sales mission which will take in four major Chinese cities.

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