A total of 45 hotel property sales - worth almost €280m - were completed in the first nine months of this year. 

Property advisor CBRE says the figures compare to a total of 33 hotel sales completed in the whole of last year.

CBRE said this demonstrated the extent to which the volume of hotel sales and demand for hotel properties has escalated during the year.

The company also pointed out that only two hotels were sold in the entire country in 2009 and only three the following year.

87% of hoteliers reporting higher levels of business

Hoteliers made the most of a good summer with about 87% of hotels and guesthouses reporting higher business levels, according to the Irish Hotels Federation.

Overseas visitors are up 10% so far this year, while the domestic market is also showing signs of an improved performance after years of subdued consumer confidence.

The IHF's latest hotel barometer shows that almost all hoteliers - 98% - believe that the Government's 9% tourism VAT rate is having a positive impact on their businesses, enabling 73% to hire extra staff over the last year.

It said this has contributed to the creation of over 23,000 direct jobs by accommodation and food services businesses over the last 12 months.

Tim Fenn, the IHF's chief executive, said that there is increased confidence on the ground, with 60% of hoteliers planning to increase marketing spend over the next year. 83% are planning to increase investment in refurbishment and upgrades, he added.

But the IHF also noted that the recovery had not yet spread to all areas of the country. While Dublin and other large urban centres are doing well, the recovery is less evident outside the main tourism "hotspots". 

The overhanging debt in the sector, which is estimated at €5.3 billion, is another concern affecting the industry. 

Hoteliers also cite "excessive" local authority rates as the single most pressing issue hitting cost competitiveness within the sector. This is followed by electricity and gas costs, as well as labour costs.