We left the Antrim coast and Northern Ireland and drove back into the Republic, with stops in Sligo, then Westport.
Irish tourism could grow by as much as 6 percent this year, building on last year’s success, Fáilte Ireland said in its annual review and forecast, released 11 January. The report said:
The recent upturn in tourism fortunes, although very welcome, has been fueled largely by factors external to the tourism industry. Improving economies of key source markets, favorable exchange rates and increased air access all contributed to making 2015 a record year. To build on this initial success, the next phase of growth must be driven by factors from within the sector including; sustaining better value for money and offering more compelling and authentic branded visitor experiences rather than relying on a hazy green image and warm welcome.
Of course, some of this year’s visitor increase will be driven by black-and-white images of the 1916 Easter Rising, and the very colorful live events commemorating the centennial, especially in the first third of the year. Sustained efforts such as Ireland’s Ancient East and Wild Atlantic Way are also drawing tourists.
The Republic’s tourism authority has raised a few concerns:
The prospect of external shocks, over which the industry has no control, has been highlighted by the recent tragic events in Paris and the consequent lock down of Brussels. Tourism businesses have raised the possibility that this may have a negative impact on tourism from long haul markets and particularly, the United States.
The report also warns of an “acute shortage” hotel rooms in Dublin city, causing room rates to increase markedly year on year and creating a danger of business being lost due to supply constraints. An estimated 5,000 additional rooms are needed in the capital region.