'We can't afford a return to rip-off Ireland'
Ireland South MEP and member of the EU Tourism Taskforce Deirdre Clune has pleaded with tourism providers in Cork not to increase prices ahead of this year's tourism season.
Her calls follow on from a Failte Ireland report this week which, whilst largely positive, shows that there has been a 16% drop in the number of British holidaymakers who would describe Ireland as good value - down from 67% in 2015 to 51% last year.
Ms Clune acknowledged that a weaker pound played a role in this but stressed that we must take account of the realities facing British holidaymakers, who make up over 50% of our tourism market.
"If sterling is weak, it's a problem for our tourism. We should respond by continuing to offer great value - good deals and great service," said Clune. "Tourism numbers are the highest in years and are powering economic growth in rural Ireland. We cannot afford to return to the days of rip off Ireland!"
"Every €1 million of tourist expenditure helps to support 29 tourism jobs. Government plans to create 40,000 new jobs using tourism throughout our economy this year. This plan would be in serious jeopardy if Ireland were to return to high prices for food and accommodation."
She said the government has played its part by reducing the tourism VAT rate to 9%. It is now up to tourism providers to continue to provide value for money in the market.
"As flights to cheaper long haul destinations in Asia become cheaper, Ireland must compete and provide a service that is matched by value. We must learn the lessons from the Celtic Tiger era and not rush to increase prices as tourist numbers increase and our economy surges forward," she said.
"I would therefore appeal to hotels, B&Bs, restaurants and other such tourism providers in Cork to think strategically and maintain value for money in the sector."