Hotels seek new direction in tourism
by Matt Britton@
Donegal hoteliers this week welcomed the launch of a major turnaround plan for tourism by a national coalition of business interests led by the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC) and the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) and including, IBEC, Chambers Ireland and the IFA.
The report, Tourism Opportunity - driving economic renewal, identifies the urgent action required to reverse the collapse in overseas demand over the past two years and sets out how tourism can play a significant role in Ireland's economic recovery as one of Ireland's top indigenous industries.
Commenting on the report, Micheal Naughton, Chairman of the Donegal Branch of the IHF said, "This industry led plan proposes a bold series of actions, which if followed, can by 2015 sustain 180,000 jobs and create over 20,000 new jobs whilst generating some €6.2 billion revenue for the economy.
"But we must be bold," he went on, "and set targets that are well beyond the consensus growth rates forecast for tourism within Europe over the coming years.
"Like the rest of the country, Donegal has experienced a dramatic decline in visitor numbers in recent years and there are few signs that market conditions will improve in the absence of radical intervention.
"By implementing the actions outlined, tourism can play its role as a substantial driver of recovery in the local economy backed up by more creative and targeted marketing in our key markets such as Britain, Europe and North America."
Speaking at the launch, Eamonn McKeon, Chief Executive of ITIC said, "Despite the setback, further meltdown can be avoided and tourism can recover to become a major engine of Irish economic growth if the objectives laid out in the report are pursued.
"Growth will have to come from our principal overseas markets since the level of demand from the domestic market is likely to be muted for some time."
Some of the major initiatives in this ambitious plan include Rebranding Ireland as a holiday destination in tandem with effective and strategic marketing, putting a strong emphasis on the quality, competitiveness and value concept and targeting a larger share of traditional markets.
The plan also recommends the establishment of an industry led Tourism Recovery task force and the introduction of a business loan guarantee scheme which will help make credit available to the sector.