THE 74th Irish Hotels Federation Annual Conference which took place in the city this week provided a welcome windfall for local businesses as delegates flocked to the event.
President Michael D Higgins opened the conference and was presented with a pair of silver cufflinks, crafted by renowned silversmith, James Mary Kelly, who is based in the Castle Yard.
The conference, which was opened by the President on Monday morning at Hotel Kilkenny provided a major financial boost to the local economy with hundreds of delegates visiting the city. “No one should be in any doubt about the fact that hoteliers and the wider tourism industry make an enormous contribution to our economy. The Irish tourism industry is resilient and it is heartening to see that, despite the continued difficulties in economies worldwide, Ireland’s tourism industry achieved a welcome return to growth in overseas visits of almost 8% in 2011. It is also even more encouraging that employment in accommodation and food services increased by 6,000 over the six-month period to the end of September last. “We have much to attract the visitor - if not at the top of the list an over indulgence of sunshine - however what we lack in that regard we make up for in the warmth of our welcome, the quality of our service, the natural beauty and contrasts of our landscapes and our culture and history,” he said.
He also remarked that 88% of visitors surveyed in 2010 said that they would definitely recommend Ireland for a visit. You, as hoteliers, stakeholders and service providers, and your employees are the source of these satisfaction levels. It augers well indeed for the future.” President Higgins also spoke about The Gathering in 2013, which promises to be one of the biggest tourist initiative even undertaken in Ireland - a year long programme of events and gatherings, driven by arts, sports, business and community groups and supported by the tourism bodies. It is hoped that the event will attract a projected figure of 325,000 visitors.