The Tourism and Hospitality Industry are being targeted as major players in Ireland's efforts to raise ourselves out of the current tough economic situation. In July 2011, the VAT rates for the sector were reduced from 13.5% to 9% in an effort to create more jobs.
The most recent available sector report gives figures compiled by the CSO for 2012 that show 6.51 million tourists from around the world visited Ireland during 2012. In the first quarter of 2013, tourism numbers are up by 7.4%, according to the CSO, and anecdotal reports suggest that 2013 could be one of the best years for the sector since the downturn.
Tourism-related enterprises in Ireland provide an estimated 180,00 jobs throughout the country. Preliminary estimates for 2012 suggest that tourism accounted for €5.7 billion in spending and €1.4 billion in taxes, representing approximately 4.7% of Gross National Product.
In a compeitive market Ireland has been doing well with recent high profile visits from the Queen of England, American President Obama, The G8 Summit of World Leaders, with President Obama accompanied by his entire family - all broadcast internationally and showcasing for the world what Ireland has to offer.
Domestic tourism has also grown, particulary in the short break market. At the core of this vitally important industry is the Irish Hotel Sector which employs 54,000 people in 850 hotels around the country. Expansion in hotel capacity in recent years has resulted in many hotels losing money and the Bed and Breakfast sector struggling to keep afloat.
However, surveys indicate that the B&B sector were the most memorable for visitors and more people are dining out in restaurants and fast food outlets. The growth of budget airlines in recent years means that Ireland is an attractive destination to visit and tourism remains our biggest indigenous industry.
Fáilte Ireland is the National Tourism Development Authority in Ireland. Failte Ireland also has responsibility to encourage, promote and support the recruitment, training and education of people for the tourism industry. Information on courses can be accessed on http://www.picktourism.com
Fáilte Ireland works in partnership with Tourism Ireland (who promote Ireland as a holiday destination to overseas markets) and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (responsible for tourism development and marketing in Northern Ireland). They lead an extensive domestic holiday campaign via www.discoverIreland.ie, which features comprehensive information and listings for Irish accommodation, activities, events, tourist attractions and Irish holiday special offers.
Some key facts:
- The nature of tourism has developed in scope and direction away from traditional activities, such as the sunshine, sand and sea holidays to a wide range of new activities. These new activities include cultural tourism, adventure tourism, sports and leisure activities and eco-tourism. This trend is offering Ireland new opportunities to develop and grow its tourism and culture industry sector.
- Tourists visiting Ireland have almost doubled in the last 10 years. The Irish Tourist Board ‘Failte Ireland’ has identified the best type of visitor for Ireland as Sightseers and Culture Seekers. These are people who like to learn about a country and its culture and enjoy visiting historic and cultural sights
- The Tourism and Hospitality sector is very large employing over 145,000 people across 16,500 businesses.
[Please check out the 'Ask the Experts' panel on the right for an overview of this sector by Failte Ireland]
Hotel and Accommodation
The number of hotels servicing the Irish tourism industry had increased to over 900 hotels and 300 guest houses. This has brought significant career opportunities for people interested in this sector, as each hotel needs a large number of people with different roles in order to function properly.
Some of the roles include:
[detailed information on individual occupations is available from the 'Sample Careers' panel on the left]
Careers in these roles are available in hotels, B&B’s Guesthouses, Hostels, Campsites and Holiday Villages all over Ireland. In addition to these roles are the managers that keep the business side of things running. This includes roles such as:
- Front Office Manager - responsible for the effective management of the reception desk, reception staff and the number of bedroom sales in the hotel
- Receptionist - Works at the front desk of a hotel, resort, etc. and is the first person a guest deals with on arrival
- Accommodation Manager/Assistants - responsible for the cleanliness of bedrooms and all public areas of the hotel
- General Manager
- Duty Manager
- Sales and Marketing Managers
- Human Resource Manager
Food & Beverage
The food and Beverage sector covers all types of establishments supplying food and drinks from restaurants, pubs, clubs and venues. This sector attracts people who like to work with people, creating and serving meals, making cocktails, designing menus etc. These occupations require excellent social skills as people are working closely with each other and the public.
Careers in this area include:
- Commis Chef - entry level role of a chef – prepares dishes to be cooked, general kitchen work
- Restaurant manager
- Sommelier - Wine expert
- Bar Staff
- Bar Manager
The tourism industry is worth approx €5 billion to the Irish Econmony with around 6 million visitors every year. Career opportunities exist in Ireland and overseas for young people at all levels from office administration to junior and senior management in a diverse range of tourism related organisations including:
- Tourism offices
- Tour Guides
- Travel Agents
- Reservation Centres
- Leisure Centres
- Cultural attractions
- Heritage Centres
- Tourist shops
Getting into this Sector
Given the potential for interesting and rewarding careers in these sectors, many young people are looking for suitable courses that will help prepare them for careers at different levels. Because of the competitive nature of these careers, staff with industry related qualifications tend to get the better jobs.
The Irish higher education system has a well developed range of courses, at all levels from PLC’s (Post Leaving Cert) to Level 7 & 8 Degrees. When looking at courses in hospitality and tourism, there can seem to be a bewildering variety of course titles covering the main employment areas of travel, tourism, hotels and restaurants.
Typical titles include:
- Tourism Management
- Tourism Marketing
- Travel and Tourism
There are also joint degrees where it is possible to study combinations of subjects, such as Tourism and Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure, Hospitality and Marketing.
Most undergraduate courses will include a period of work experience as part of the course, varying in length from 6 months to one year. This work experience is seen to be a central part of courses, where the student obtains the opportunity to practice what they have learned in college or university. Employers also see great value in this work experience when considering the employment of graduates.
Given the international nature of these industries, another valuable part of any course is the study of languages. Most courses in hospitality and tourism provide access to language courses, either as core components or as options.
In addition to the above courses, there are also more specialised courses in Tourism covering areas such as Cultural Tourism, Tourism Marketing, Tourism Planning, Museum Management, Heritage Management, Cultural Tourism and Sustainable Tourism: these are suitable for people who have an interest in employment in a specific sector of the industry.
Failte Ireland also provide skills training and work based training throughout Ireland for those who want to enter the sector more immediately, or want to complete their training whilst employed.
Earn and Learn Courses
If you’re eager to join the workforce and don’t want to go to college full-time then there are 6 ‘Earn & Learn’ programmes. These programmes make it easy for you:
- To go to college part time to receive a fully recognised qualification.
- Receive valuable paid work experience in a ‘best practice’ establishment in the tourism industry
- Your college fees are paid for by Fáilte Ireland (with the exception of the Trainee Manager Development Programme).
Employers who are part of this programme agree to let you go to college when your lectures or tutorials are on and there will also be someone at your place of employment who will be your personal ‘mentor’!
You need to have an employer to get into this course. Your employer will need to register with Fáilte Ireland and nominate you for the course. But if you don’t have an employer, the college may be able to advise you on finding one.