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Kerry Tourism Industry Federation supports the efforts of the tourism and hospitality industry in County Kerry

Kerry Tourism Industry Federation supports the efforts of the tourism and hospitality industry in County Kerry

Despite the challenges that another year of COVID-19 restrictions imposed on the tourism and hospitality industry, 2021 has proven to be a strong year for tourism in County Kerry – both nationally and internationally with the unwavering support of the Kerry Tourism Industry Federation.

The Kerry Tourism Industry Federation (KTIF) is an entity that was established to represent the interests of all parties associated with tourism in County Kerry. The federation’s overarching purpose is to promote and develop tourism in Kerry. KTIF conducted a visitor sentiment survey in August to measure the opinions of holidaymakers in the county during the month. The sample included some overseas visitors, though the sample was mainly Irish tourists.
The survey found that the majority of holidaymakers planned to spend their full holiday in Kerry at 78% and over a third planned to visit at least 4 tourism-based locations in the county during their stay. Kerry proved to be hugely popular with returning visitors as over 38% of those surveyed indicated that they had visited Kerry 5 times or more. Other highlights for visitors to the county included walking and hiking trails, shopping, food tours/distilleries/breweries and parks/gardens. Tourism and hospitality businesses in Kerry clearly impressed our visitors over the summer as all participants said that they would visit Kerry again, with the majority stating their trip to Kerry exceeded their expectations and that they would recommend Kerry to others.

What surprised some of the industry was the top reason they chose to visit Kerry this year was social media influencers, which was higher than word of mouth. KTIF has an influencer programme in place where the industry has the opportunity to host an influencer who will prepare content using the Discover Kerry hashtags and @ExperienceKerry handles, as well as comment on the places that they stay and visit while holidaying in the county.

KTIF also conducted a survey among businesses in the county to gauge the impact of COVID-19 on their service offerings during the summer months. Although visitor sentiment was overall very strong and positive, the industry still faces numerous challenges and the overarching sentiment is that a collaborative approach, such as that brought about by KTIF, is welcomed.

Almost 40% of businesses in Kerry that were surveyed indicated that they were operating at a reduced capacity or service level.  Of the sample’s 75% whose business was affected by COVID-19 guidelines, they estimated that they could have generated an additional 40% in revenue had they not been in place.  In respect of service level, half of the sample said they were impacted by staff shortages. Over two-thirds indicated that government support was very critical to their business. While it is encouraging to see that business levels for the industry this year were up almost 60% on 2020, however, overall business in 2021 is reported as being 66% of the 2019 level.

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“The collaboration and the resilience of the tourism and hospitality industry in Kerry has been remarkable. Not only has the industry survived this difficult period, but has also developed and adapted to rebuild tourism in a much stronger and more sustainable way, ” says Pat O’Leary, Chairman of the KTIF. “There is still some distance to go to get visitor levels and jobs in the county back to pre-COVID levels. Next year is expected to be very challenging with a predicted drop in domestic demand as many Irish visitors being expected to return to overseas holidays. It is therefore critical that the aggressive and unified promotion of the county as undertaken by KTIF over the past two years be sustained. The work of the KTIF marketing group and the destination marketing campaign delivered by O’Connell Marketing on behalf of KTIF – with the support of Kerry County Council, LEADER and Fáilte Ireland – has shown excellent results in attracting interest in Kerry. The media platforms established by KTIF included the website with a growth of 940% year on year, while the social media platforms delivered 6.7M impressions and 20.5M video views in 2021.”

Elsewhere, County Kerry was highlighted as one of the top destinations in the country based on a variety of metrics.

A report from Allied Irish Banks (AIB) shows that Kerry was the top county for staycations by visitor spend this summer. It reported that over 55 million transactions were processed in Kerry during the summer months, more than any other county and ahead of all cities. This is confirmed by the findings of the KTIF visitor survey where a third of visitors indicated that they planned to spend up to €300 per day during their stay. The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) also reported that County Kerry had an average occupancy rate of 76% – higher than the national average of 62%. On the international front, CNN Travel named Kenmare in their list of Europe’s most beautiful towns and Kerry was ranked 13th in the 2021 Global Sustainability Index Awards.

“It is encouraging to see the positive sentiment from visitors to Kerry this summer as it has been such a challenging time for the industry in Kerry,” says Patrick O’Donoghue, Chair of the KTIF Marketing Group and CEO of the Gleneagle Group. “One of the main positives from this is that the level of Irish tourists in the county has seen huge growth and are returning a few times in the year. We are aware 2022 will be our most challenging year with many travelling abroad for the first time in two years. However, we hope to build on the positive sentiment built up over the past two years and have a wonderful tourism product in Kerry with so much to see and do all year round.”
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