Killarney’s contribution to the tourism industry nationally has been confirmed in a report launched today by Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin that reveals an overall economic impact of €410 million generated locally by holiday makers.
The Killarney Tourism Economic Impact Review (TEIR 1) report, compiled by strategic research consultants W2 Consulting, revealed that the tourism industry supports 3,122 jobs locally and brings 1.1 million annual visitors to the town.
Launched at the Aghadoe Heights Hotel on the outskirts of Killarney, the report predicts growth of 30% for tourism in Killarney between now and 2025. But to achieve this, two issues must be dealt with: ‘regionality’ and seasonality.
The review, commissioned by Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, involved an examination of the economic contribution of tourism, attitudes of visitors to the town and areas for consideration to promote further tourism growth. The timeframe for the tourism industry research was August to October 2017, with all data supplied based on 2016 performance indicators.
The report found that Killarney is delivering for tourists, with 41% of visitors stating it had exceeded expectations and 57% that it had met expectations. The town also scored strongly in terms of value for money, with 77% rating Killarney either ‘very good’ or ‘good’ value compared to 61% for Ireland.
The average room rate for Killarney was €113 compared to €139 nationally. Its monthly average room rate peaked in August at €126, compared to €117 nationally – one of only two months of the year when the town had a rate higher than the national average. However, Killarney’s rate was still lower than Dublin’s rate (€139) during August.
It also reveals that North American market remains the most lucrative for the Irish tourism industry, with the US/Canadian guest spending 80% more per day than domestic tourists. North American visitors have an average daily spend of €191.50 – 30% more than UK tourists and more than double that of Mainland European visitors.
However, two key challenges stand out for the town – regionality and seasonality. The former emerged in results on occupancy rates, with the annual average for Killarney at 64% and 74% nationally. Killarney has, however, twice the national average of beds per head of population.
Nonetheless, seasonality remains an issue for the tourism sector in Killarney, with an average occupancy of just 20% in December – its weakest performing month – compared to 48% in the (south west) region, 71% in Dublin and 60% nationally at that time.
Another issue is the low level of business tourism, with only 7% of visitors coming to Killarney for business, in keeping with Co.Kerry’s ranking as the lowest of all Wild Atlantic Way counties for IDA jobs per capita and less than half the national average.
Commenting on the results, Killarney Chamber of Tourism & Commerce president Paul O’Neill said: “This report has been enlightening. It has quantified just how important tourism is for us and the figures are hugely impressive. We most definitely have the capacity, with in excess of 10,000 beds in the town; we have a unique product in terms of what we offer in the town itself and immediate hinterland but also what we offer as a gateway to both the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula. And according to this report, visitors are having their expectations more than met.
“The report does, however, raise some issues, particularly with regard to our regional location and seasonality. While these are challenges we must address, we believe that with the right approach and investment we can turn them into an opportunity. This is also very much recognised in the Fáilte Ireland strategy to address regionality and seasonality and the County Kerry Tourism Strategy & Action Plan 2016-2022 objectives.”
Among the key recommendations outlined in the TEIR 1 report are:
- A national and international ‘Killarney’ digital marketing campaign
- Supporting direct international access to the west coast
- Investment in road network to Kerry, particularly the Macroom and Adare by-passes, and broadband in Kerry
- Preparing for the Brexit challenge by building on Killarney’s strong appeal within the North American and Mainland European markets
- Enhancing the product mix in the town, including indoor attractions, to build its capacity to attract and retain visitors
- Investing in key products or segments that will address the seasonality challenges faced by Killarney and the wider Kerry area, including completion of Gap of Dunloe Greenway, Fossa Way and Lough Leane Loop Walk
Conor Hennigan, Development Manager, Killarney Chamber of Commerce and Tourism said: “Tourism is hugely important to Killarney, as this report illustrates, but there are indicators within the report that confirm the economic imbalance on this island. The fact that Dublin is the destination most frequently visited by tourists after their time in Killarney suggests that not enough of our visitors are spending time elsewhere in Co Kerry or on the Wild Atlantic Way. The report also raises concerns about the low percentage of beds being booked for business reasons, mirroring the fact that Kerry has the second lowest number of IDA jobs on the Wild Atlantic Way. There’s clearly a perception that all is well in Kerry because of tourism but this report indicates that while we have an amazing product that is delivering on tourists’ expectations, there are areas we need to address.”