A new survey by Fáilte Ireland shows that holiday makers here continue to leave with a positive impression of their stay, but slightly fewer feel a holiday here represented good value for money. In the latest Overseas Holidaymakers Attitudes Survey, 63% of respondents said their trip to Ireland met their expectations, with the vast bulk of the remainder saying their trip exceeded expectations.
More than half - 57% - said they would definitely return to the country - with another 39% saying they hoped to do so in the future. And more than 60% of respondents said they would strongly recommend a trip to Ireland to people they know.
"2016 was a record year for tourism in Ireland," said Fáilte Ireland's CEO Paul Kelly. "The sector generated over €7 billion in revenue for the economy and supported around 220,000 jobs here in Ireland. The overall satisfaction of these visitors from our recent survey is very, very good - with as many as 99 out of 100 people saying their holiday in Ireland either met or exceeded their expectations."
Mr Kelly said things like the friendliness of Irish people, along with the country's scenery, history and culture, all played their part in leaving visitors with a positive impression of their trip. However the slip in sterling has damaged the country's attractiveness amongst British holidaymakers, with just 51% of visitors from there saying that Ireland was good or very good value for money. That compares to 67% in the previous survey.
North American and European holidaymakers also gave Ireland a slightly lower rating for value of money in 2016 than in the previous year. "As we all know value for money is such an important factor when it comes to choosing where to go on holidays - this is something that we need to pay close attention to," said Mr Kelly.
There is not much Fáilte Ireland - or the tourism businesses on the ground - can do about the sterling exchange rate. However Mr Kelly says that what businesses are in charge of is keeping a lid on costs - while also improving their value proposition. "Value for money isn't just about price - it's a combination of what you get and what you pay," he said. "Fáilte Ireland is continuously working on how we can improve the visitor experience."
Mr Kelly cited developments like the Wild Atlantic Way as an example of that. He said the organisation was set to invest close to €30m in various initiatives and events that they hoped would be of help to tourism-focused companies. "On the pricing side all we can really do is continue to remind industry to stay focused on the long-term reputation for value and to keep our prices competitive," he said.
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