I wouldn't advise anyone to visit 'rip-off' Dublin - tourism expert
An international tourism expert has said he would never recommend Dublin to anyone for a short break as the city is a "rip-off".
Speaking at a tourism and hospitality conference in Co Sligo yesterday, Professor Michael Hall from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand said he was "horrified" when he went to book a hotel room for a Saturday night in Dublin and found that one night would cost more than two nights in Helsinki with the same hotel chain.
"I would never, ever recommend anyone to come to Dublin for a short break because I think it is an absolute rip-off," said the academic, who was charged €400 for a night in Dublin.
"I had already booked my flights so I was stuck.
"It is not a supremely flash room. There were rooms which were even more expensive on booking.com."
Pressed on why he would not recommend Dublin, Mr Hall said he had visited before "and quite frankly having a weekend shared with stag nights is not my idea of a good time".
Mr Hall added he could not imagine wanting to come to Ireland if it was not for a conference or business.
"Why would I come round the other side of the world to Ireland?" he asked.
"There are lots of [other] beautiful countries. It is not particularly cheap.
"At the airport, what am I met with? James Joyce and Beckett, in terms of advertising. Come on. Where is the contemporary stuff? You also have the Irish jig playing in the background for the promo."
The tourism expert also warned that Ireland's image was being affected by international media coverage of issues such as clerical abuse or the recent investigation into British actor Stephen Fry for alleged blasphemy.
While An Garda Síochána had halted the investigation into alleged blasphemy by Fry "because they could not find enough people to be outraged over his anti-God remarks on Irish television", the case was nevertheless widely reported internationally, he said.
Mr Hall was also critical of the delays at passport control in Dublin Airport where he said he was held up for 40 minutes on arrival last Monday.
"It is ridiculous. Put more staff on. The staff are lovely - the system is s***. You have not enough people there. It is the first encounter someone has with your country and you are stuck in a queue for 40 minutes," he said.
Meanwhile, Ireland was declared the second most expensive country in Europe with prices across a broad cross-section of consumer goods and services coming in at 125pc of EU average.
According to figures from Eurostat, Denmark had the highest overall prices for consumer goods and services in the EU, 39pc above the average of other nations in the bloc.
With the exception of consumer electronics, Ireland was above the EU average for all the price categories surveyed.
Ireland was highest in the EU for alcoholic beverages and tobacco (175pc of the EU average), third highest for "personal transport equipment", ie. cars, motor-bikes and bicycles (111pc of EU average), fourth highest for restaurants and hotels and fifth highest for food and non-alcoholic drinks (120pc).
However, the EU overall, including Ireland, remains a lot cheaper than some non-EU European countries, with Switzerland, Iceland and Norway outstripping EU prices by a significant margin.