A bumper year for the sector ends with a huge number of Christmas parties and events...
It's been a booming business year for Irish tourism and hospitality and, despite Brexit concerns, a sizeable proportion of hotels are ready to bump up their workforce in 2017.
An Irish Hotel Federation (IHF) survey found that 41% of members plan to take on new staff next year. Looking back, some 91% of hoteliers saw an increase in business over the past 12 months. That has only increased as the curtain comes down on 2016 – two-thirds of hotels played host to a bigger number of Christmas parties and events than in 2015, as companies get generous post-recession. A quarter had to take on additional seasonal staff to deal with that demand alone.
Numbers overall were boosted by a record-breaking year for Irish tourism, with overseas visitors up 11%.
IHF president Joe Dolan said:
"There are good reasons to be optimistic about our key North America and European markets in the coming year."
Some 89% of hoteliers also plan to reinvest in their properties in 2017.
Despite this, issues beyond our control remain a concern – nine out of 10 hoteliers are worried about what's going on across the Irish Sea – with Dolan sounding a note of caution:
"While it is too early to say what the effect of Brexit will be, the uncertainty and the fall in the value of Sterling will pose challenges.
"Many of the consequences are largely outside our control, so it is imperative that we mitigate the risks and potential damage where possible. This is a key task for us in the coming years as we work to deliver sustainable, long-term growth.
"In particular, continued Government support for tourism in the form of investment in marketing and product development will be critical to ensuring that tourism fulfils its true potential for further employment growth."
Already, 18% have seen a fall in forward bookings from Northern Ireland.