Inbound Irish tourism partners want the Government to up its game and support a new drive to boost earnings by 65pc by 2025 and bring in two million more international visitors.
Launching a new strategy in Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse, the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation believes that earnings from overseas tourism can rise to €8.1bn a year and create 80,000 jobs in what is already Ireland’s biggest employment sector.
Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, CEO of ITIC, said the report has 41 key recommendations, including:
- The establishment of a National Tourism Day – as is the case in the US, Canada, England, the EU and U.
- The need for 11,000 more hotel bedrooms around the country, particularly in Dublin
- A call for 40pc more air and sea access to the island of Ireland
- Retention of the 9pc VAT rate for the sector
And the Government came under fire for the amount being spent on the tourism sector – €300m in total in the €91bn National Development Plan.
“The €30m per annum figure allocated to tourism is simply not enough,” said Mr O’Mara Walsh. And ITIC chairman Maurice Pratt believes that spending is a no-brainer for the State: “The return on investment to the State is 34 to one,” he said.
Ruth Andrews, Deputy Chair of ITIC and Chief Executive of the Irish Tour Operators Association, said: “Tourism is an export industry. Lots of maturity has happened in this industry in the last decade”, and said the Government needs to take notice of its importance.
Paul Carty, Managing Director of the Guinness Storehouse and Chairman of the Association of Visitor Experience & Attractions, was also critical of the €300m coming from State coffers. “Center Parcs in Longford alone is a €250m investment and yet we’re talking about €300m for tourism for 10 years,” he said.
He also argued that more needs to be done to make hospitality a long-term career, with the conference told that with full employment, filling tourism jobs will be an uphill struggle.
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