Monday 26 August 2019

Tourism chief rejects minister's call for more local authority participation

The Wild Atlantic way, where coasteering is popular, has benefited from a strategic approach, says a tourist body.
The Wild Atlantic way, where coasteering is popular, has benefited from a strategic approach, says a tourist body.
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

A tourism industry representative group has criticised Junior Minister Patrick O'Donovan's plan to have local authorities become more involved in tourism strategy.

Earlier this month Mr O'Donovan said he wanted every local authority to produce a tourism strategy by the end of March, saying he wanted to see "a key set of actions" that councils were going to take.

That plan was criticised by Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC) chairman Paul Gallagher yesterday.

"I disagree with that policy. I think we've had far too much of everybody doing their own thing and then nothing's done in a very organised fashion," Gallagher said.

"Wild Atlantic Way has been a cross-county council development. A strategy was agreed and everybody rolled out the same offering.

"I think the funds for hospitality and tourism are so small that any fracturing of that by doing what's good locally, isn't always good for tourism."

"We don't need lots of little bits and pieces everywhere, we need things of scale. The trouble with doing little bits of things everywhere is that if you come up with a great idea in Kerry County Council, a guy in Mayo might want to do the same thing and you end up with the same stuff everywhere, which means no standout for anybody."

Mr Gallagher also said Ireland's tourism industry had benefited from recent terror attacks. "The terrorist attacks across Europe have driven business to northern Europe. And in northern Europe, Ireland has been one of the main beneficiaries of people feeling insecure, because it's very secure," he said.

He was speaking at the ITIC's end-of-year review, which flagged Brexit and a capacity constraint, particularly in Dublin, as industry priorities for next year. "Visitor number targets will not be met unless the deficit in hotel bedroom development is addressed with some urgency," he said.

"If demand and supply is out of sync, there will always be upward pressure on prices and a loss of competitiveness represents the single largest threat to tourism's future growth. Should the planned new hotels not materialise, there will need to be policy intervention to stimulate new builds," Mr Gallagher added.

Irish Independent

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