Our famous cead mile failte now little more than a snarl
THE traditional Irish 'cead mile failte' has been replaced by a snarl and we have a long way to go to get back to our internationally renowned welcome.
That was the stark message delivered yesterday by National Roads Authority chairman Peter Malone who fired off several broadsides at the state of Irish tourism at a conference in Co Clare.
Mr Malone told delegates the Irish had lost the cead mile failte and that prices were too high.
He also called for Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland to be merged into one agency.
In his outspoken address at the 23rd annual Clare Tourism conference in Ennistymon, Mr Malone -- who oversaw the expansion of the Jury's Hotel group from three to 36 hotels -- said: "We have lost the friendliness that we became famous for."
He added: "Staff don't say 'please', don't say 'thank you'. The little touches that I learned all over the years in Jury's, they're gone.
"You get into a lift in any hotel, staff won't even say 'good morning' or 'good evening' to you.
"Go into a shop, go into a post office, go in anywhere, we snarl at people."
Mr Malone warned: "Unless we stop the rot soon and improve training and standards in our country, the friendliness will not return. We have a long way to go."
He also hit out at the prices that tourists are forced to pay.
"Food in restaurants and bars are at unreal prices. Even a cup of tea or coffee is often €2.25 or more."
Mr Malone told delegates: "Take your children out now at your peril as they are charged just as much."
In calling for the merging of agencies Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland, Mr Malone said: "There is great confusion all over the country in the tourism sector as to who is doing what job and the industry has become frustrated.
"When we had the one agency, Bord Failte, it was much better."
Mr Malone said the new Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar was "really keen in cutting back on quangos and this is an ideal thing to do now to put everyone back into one tourism body".