Wednesday 27 March 2019

Tourists: please pack up your wheelie cases and go home - I want my city back

'Dublin is a living city that is being choked by too many visitors'. Stock Image
'Dublin is a living city that is being choked by too many visitors'. Stock Image
Ita O'Kelly

Ita O'Kelly

We in Ireland have always tugged the forelock at visiting tourists for the simple reason that they were mostly our main source of income, when tourism was pretty much the only game in town.

Now, with just shy of five million overseas tourists choking the streets of our capital city annually, it is time to say enough is enough. We Dubliners want our city back please.

Tourism Ireland said that Dublin had 4.9 million overseas visitors in 2015. The figure for 2013 was 3.998 million and for 2014, 4.119 million.

Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show that the number of visitors to the Republic of Ireland up to the end of September is up 12pc.

Dublin city needs to be more than a mere tourist attraction. It is a living city that is being choked by too many visitors, too many wheelie cases and way too many coffee shops catering to their needs. The small niche shops are disappearing and each one replaced by another coffee outlet.

I'm a native Dubliner and I am finding my home city a changed and disagreeable place.

It is now a mecca for tourists, all year round. It is virtually impossible to get from A to B with any speed anymore, without falling over someone reading a map while simultaneously sucking on an ice cream.

When I was a kid growing up in Dublin, the tourists and the Spanish students came during the summer and that was that.

Now it is packed to capacity all year round with hall-door shaped tourists pulling dangerous weapons behind them, otherwise known as wheelie cases.

At every corner there are artisan coffee shops selling muffins as big as myself and cups of mediocre coffee north of €3 a pop. Interestingly, most of these coffee emporia are staffed by pleasant young people from far-flung places who are here on study visas.

Irish stew is on the menu in the pubs. Walk into Trinity College and it is hard to imagine that it is actually a live university stuffed with students there to learn, given the volume of tourists.

There are vast numbers of people begging on the streets, and large numbers of street 'entertainers' aimed at the tourist, to whom their talents are at least novel.

In many city restaurants you will be drowned out by the shrill sounds of hen and stag parties from the UK. When the city hosts free music events for its citizens, it's virtually impossible to get a seat as the tickets have been snagged by the tourists.

And how do I know they are all tourists? Well, the Carrolls Irish Gifts bags are a bit of a giveaway. Within immediate range of Grafton Street there are three Carrolls Irish Gift shops swiftly selling their wares. And good luck to Carrolls. Who can blame them?

There are ice-cream parlours still trading at 11pm in the city centre and they are packed with tourists dressed in raincoats. Nearby, young homeless people sleep in shop doorways.

Grafton Street is tatty and ugly. O'Connell Street is menacing and throbbing with too many people. The Luas works continue apace.

The Airbnb effect is putting accommodation out of reach of families in favour of the more lucrative tourist market.

Venice is fighting back. So is Amsterdam. San Francisco is also objecting to tourism and highly paid tech employees annexing their city and rinsing it of its charm and personality, the very reason they came in the first place.

Br Kevin Crowley of the Capuchin Day Centre in the heart of historic Dublin hands out 600 hot dinners a day to the homeless in Dublin. He says that demand for the service, which also sends 1,700 food parcels a week to the poor and destitute, including families, is higher than it was 50 years ago.

If Dublin is allowed to become just a shrine for tourists, the heart of the city will be destroyed.

In truth, you can get too much of a good thing.

And I am now calling time on any more tourists to what is, after all, my city.

Irish Independent

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