Tourism Ireland is worried a Lonely Planet article about the cost of visiting Ireland will get “amplified” across the world amid a “low but consistent number of complaints” about rising bills for holidaymakers visiting here.
Monitoring had found there was a steady level of complaints online from visitors to Ireland on social media, with 55 of 68 issues raised in a single week relating to costs, and 42 per cent of all complaints specifically about car hire.
The State agency said in a special report on the sector that there was continuing “low-level feedback” on the cost of renting a car as well as hotel room costs from trade partners and on social media.
However, Tourism Ireland said this had so far largely escaped negative coverage in the mainstream media in a briefing paper.
The country-by-country special report on rising costs said trade partners in France were particularly concerned about “ongoing price and availability issues”.
Operators in France were seeing hotel room allocations canceled as well as “very high weekday rates for Dublin city center hotels”.
“Price increases in restaurants have also been flagged as a concern,” the report stated. “In addition, some tour operators have reported that key attractions no longer take group bookings — a critical component of a group tour for holidaymakers.”
In Belgium and the Netherlands, tour operators reported issues with canceled hotel rooms due to their reallocation for refugees from Ukraine.
However, other operators said group bookings were doing “very well” and that, so far, they had been able to find alternative accommodation.
The feedback from Germany was also “still very positive” with high interest in holidays in Ireland and the travel industry there actually unable to meet demand for July and August.
The special report said: “Tour operators have reported that additional costs are frequently being borne by themselves and hotels, as a proportion of these sales were booked in advance by consumers [when rates were lower]. Rental cars are a challenge in terms of cost and availability.”
In Spain, costs were a “hot topic”, but concern there primarily centered on their own tourism industry rather than what was happening elsewhere.
From the US, there was feedback about the supply of accommodation and car rental.
There had also been high-profile coverage of the queue and baggage issues that have dogged Dublin Airport for the past number of months.
In the UK, coverage of costs was mainly confined to a newspaper for the Irish diaspora, with national media there more focused on “rail strikes”.
Online monitoring had seen an increase of weekly complaints during mid-June from 56 to 68 with the level deemed “low but consistent”.
The report added: “The markets with the highest number of messages received around these topics were from Italy, Benelux [Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg] and the US. Complaints currently represent only around 2 per cent of weekly engagements.”
On car hire, the report said rental prices were an issue in many countries and continued to get widespread media coverage.
However, while high car prices here were occasionally used as an example, Ireland had not been identified “as an outlier on the topic”.
Tourism Ireland were also worried about a Lonely Planet article that warned tourists of “soaring hotel costs” and how renting a car would make a “significant dent” in a visitor’s budget.
An internal email said: “It came up as a top story alert for me on Twitter so will keep an eye on that — danger of it getting amplified across countries as a tourism topic.”
A colleague responded to say: “Thanks, we’ll … keep an eye out for whether this is picked up in non-Irish media.”
In an information note, Tourism Ireland said the country-by-country report — which was released under Freedom of Information — was one in a weekly series prepared by their in-house strategy and insights team.