London Olympics dampened tourism in Ireland
IRISH tour operators blamed the London Olympics for dampening business last year despite attempts by the Government here to capitalise on the sporting event.
A survey by the Incoming Tour Operators' Association (ITOA) said the Olympics led to more expensive air fares and reduced availability on flights.
Tourism Ireland launched a major advertising campaign in advance of the event last July promoting Ireland as a hassle-free holiday option to harassed Londoners during the Games.
Despite the problems, visitors from Britain handled by ITOA members grew by 3.2pc.
But ITOA chief executive Ruth Andrews told the Irish Independent: "Certainly the Olympics, in the view of members, kept business away because air fares increased substantially during the period, therefore regular holidaymakers who would have thought about coming to Ireland would have seen high airfares and that would have put them off."
The body also raised concerns about the high cost of doing business and the impact of the fragile global economy.
And it warned that the Belfast flag protests had the potential to cause unease among clients and fuel concerns about travelling throughout Ireland.
Key findings from the survey include:
• Total gross turnover for the 30 ITOA members in 2012 amounted to €217m – up 19pc on 2011.
• The total number of tourists handed by the ITOA members in 2012 was 419,236 – up 16pc.
• Tourists handled by ITOA members spent €346m in Ireland in 2012.
• Dublin accounted for 41pc of total turnover, marginally down on the 43pc recorded in 2011.
• North American visitors grew 28pc, France by 18.5pc and Germany/Austria by 13pc.
The ITOA said that over the next three years the key business opportunities included The Gathering, the possibility of increased visitors from emerging markets such as China, India and South America and a successful EU presidency by Ireland.