Video: Don't rip off visitors at The Gathering, Enda Kenny warns businesses
IT IS meant to welcome home the diaspora, but Taoiseach Enda Kenny is already warning businesses not to rip off visitors to Ireland during next year's Gathering.
He said the aim of the year-long tourism promotion event was to give people a "really good-quality experience" that would encourage them to come back again.
"When they come, they must be made feel as important as VIPs and get a quality of experience here," he said.
He added that there should not be "a rip-off" or an attempt to say "just because the Gathering is in place, you're welcome to our shores, give us your money".
Mr Kenny said he did not want the Gathering to be a "short-term operation" -- as he outlined the potential for it to have a lasting effect on the tourism industry here.
"The trick is to send them away with a little bit of ourselves, and when they're stuck on Brooklyn Bridge in the middle of a traffic jam, they'll say, 'I wish to God I was in Achill or Kerry or back in Ireland'," he said.
He was speaking in Government Buildings in Dublin at the announcement of a €2m funding top-up for the Gathering, which will allow local authorities to finance around 700 new events.
Around €1m will go towards up to three "flagship events" in each council area, with grants ranging from €25,000-€700,000.
Mr Kenny also revealed that he had been asked recently to send a letter to a woman in Phoenix, Arizona, to wish her a happy 70th birthday.
"I also mentioned in the letter that we were having the Gathering in 2013. She wrote back to me and said, 'I'm booking 80 people to go to Ireland for a fortnight to celebrate my birthday properly'," he said.