Monday 27 March 2017

Our tourism share plummets in spite of record marketing spend

Thomas Molloy

Thomas Molloy

THE Irish share of the world tourism market has plummeted in the past decade, despite us spending more money on tourism than any other European country.

Radical ideas in a confidential report, seen by the Irish Independent, include flying the Union Jack in more locations to make British visitors feel more comfortable.

The report says Ireland had 0.93pc of the world market in 2000 but had just 0.64pc of the global market a decade later.

The study, commissioned by the Dublin City Business Association, also found:

- There appears to be little correlation between marketing spending by tourism organisations and visitor numbers.

- Too little money is spent on selling Dublin overseas given the amount it contributes to the tourist economy.

- Too many tourist attractions are looking dated and fresh ideas are needed.

- There should be specific attractions aimed at attracting the lucrative Chinese and French markets.

The report says: "The World Tourism Organisation found that, in 2009, Ireland had the highest marketing spend per tourist arrival of 29 European countries.

"Ireland's marketing spend per arrival was €7.40, or almost eight times that of France and almost 19 times that of Italy."

Tourists visiting Ireland in 2009 spent just €1.4bn compared with the €4.2bn spent by Irish people overseas the same year, according to CSO figures.

However, these are partly distorted by the inclusion of air fares in the outgoing figure.

The report states that far too little money is spent on selling Dublin overseas. The capital accounted for 32pc of tourism revenue in 2009, although only 6pc of tourism promotion was spent on the city.

Museums such as the Dublin City Museum are criticised for being "serious and boring". The Writer's Museum and the Joyce Tower are branded "failures".

The report calls for new attractions such as a museum about Ireland's Nobel Prize- winning authors and a fresh food market. A literature museum similar to a rival in Amsterdam could attract up to 350,000 people a year, the report adds.

Other attractions such as Dublin Zoo, which has seen visitors soar, get warm praise.

The report, carried out by consultants Felim O'Rourke and Jerome Casey, notes that Scotland attracted nine million visitors in 2009 at a cost of €55m while Ireland enticed just 6.9 million visitors that year at a cost of €145m.

It also suggests that the Government replace the travel tax with a bed tax of €2 a night and says money should be spent on websites, which are used by most people when deciding on a holiday destination.

Specific recommendations aimed to reversing the 53pc decline in British tourists between 2007 and 2010 include flying the Union Jack in more places and improving sites such as the Memorial Gardens and Wellington Monument.

Specific attractions for French and Chinese visitors could include revamps of the Huguenot Cemetery in central Dublin and the Chester Beatty Library.

Irish Independent

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