AN extra 74,000 tourism jobs could be created by 2020 if Ireland could attract 10m overseas visitors a year, the Irish Hotels Federation has said.
Growth of 6pc a year would be needed to achieve this target and build on the 7m tourists who visited last year, said new IHF president Stephen McNally, The number of overseas visitors increased by 7.2pc last year and a strong marketing strategy will be needed to deliver continued growth, he said.
The first step would have to be the full restoration of the Tourism Marketing Fund’s funding which has been cut from €47m in 2009 to €37m this year.
Delivering an extra 3m visitors could build on the 23,300 new tourism jobs created since 2011 and generate an extra €540m a year in tax revenue, Mr McNally said.
This would bring total tourism employment up from 196,000 today to 270,000 by 2020.
“These jobs would be spread across every corner of the country, creating sustainable indigenous local employment and contributing significantly to the export economy,” said Mr McNally.
He called for an extra €30m a year to be ring-fenced for development of tourism infrastructure.
Initiatives such as the Wild Atlantic Way driving route covering 2,500km from Donegal to Cork offered enormous potential to revitalise tourism along the west coast and was already generating strong interest from markets such as Germany, he said.
Sporting events were also a huge draw and the government should work with industry to attract more international soccer, rugby and American football events to this country.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar will address the IHF agm in Trim, Co Meath later today, while Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary will highlight the vital role of more air routes.