Monday 27 February 2017

Controversial 'Tourists... I want my city back' article sparks massive debate online

Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

'Dublin is a living city that is being choked by too many visitors'. Stock Image
'Dublin is a living city that is being choked by too many visitors'. Stock Image

An Irish Independent article has sparked debate online over the amount of tourists in Dublin's city centre.

Journalist Ita O'Kelly wrote the piece entitled 'Tourists: please pack up your wheelie cases and go home - I want my city back' and argued; "We in Ireland have always tugged the forelock at visiting tourists for the simple reason that they were mostly our main source of income, when tourism was pretty much the only game in town.

"Now, with just shy of five million overseas tourists choking the streets of our capital city annually, it is time to say enough is enough. We Dubliners want our city back please."

The article, which was published on Thursday, argued that Dublin "needs to be more than a mere tourist attraction".

"It is a living city that is being choked by too many visitors, too many wheelie cases and way too many coffee shops catering to their needs. The small niche shops are disappearing and each one replaced by another coffee outlet," the author wrote.

"I'm a native Dubliner and I am finding my home city a changed and disagreeable place.

"It is now a mecca for tourists, all year round. It is virtually impossible to get from A to B with any speed anymore, without falling over someone reading a map while simultaneously sucking on an ice cream."

She continued; "There are ice-cream parlours still trading at 11pm in the city centre and they are packed with tourists dressed in raincoats. Nearby, young homeless people sleep in shop doorways.

"Grafton Street is tatty and ugly. O'Connell Street is menacing and throbbing with too many people. The Luas works continue apace.

"The Airbnb effect is putting accommodation out of reach of families in favour of the more lucrative tourist market....

"If Dublin is allowed to become just a shrine for tourists, the heart of the city will be destroyed.

"In truth, you can get too much of a good thing.

"And I am now calling time on any more tourists to what is, after all, my city."

The Dublin Tourism Business Association (DTBA) has now reacted to the article saying they "refute all claims that those touring the city are a burden or something to bemoan."

CEO David Brennan said; "Let’s not jest about the benefits tourism brings to our economy. Government figures show that in 2015, total tourism revenue for the economy (including domestic and international visitors) was around €7bn.

"This money is essential to the status quo of running a country so to suggest we could somehow do without is terribly naïve."

He added; "“People visiting tourist attractions such as Trinity College or coffee shops and ice cream parlours popping up and serving late is not to be admonished.

"I do wonder if the author has been abroad because most European cities have similar late night openings, again to cater for tourists who choose to spend their money in their city and soak up the delights which that city has to offer."

Readers held their own debate on Independent.ie, noting the replacement of 'niche' shops with international chains and speculating on tourists' view of the city's homelessness issues.

One wrote; "Tourists are only here on a once off trip anyway. Once they see the homeless situation. The beggars. The junkies... They don't come back for a second viewing anyway."

Another wrote: "It's useless to complain about tourists, they will still come, you cannot stop it. Which is worthy to discuss is what kind of city do you guys want to have. That beatiful [sic] one full of pubs and colorful shops or the one full of McDonalds and Starbucks.That's something you can easily prevent."

Someone else added; "Venice, now that's a city with too many tourists. Before Dublin got on the travel map it was really dreary and had crappy services. Thank goodness for European workers in the hospitality industry."

Another wrote; "Dublin's being ruined by lots of things.. junkies, scumbags, chain stores replacing, traffic and roadworks.... not a group of people looking for directions to the Guinness Storehouse."

Read the comment piece in full here

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