Action on British tourism urged
There was a marginal increase in overseas visitors in 2012, but visitors from Britain were down by 100,000.
Tourist numbers from Britain have dropped by one million since 2007 and Government targets to repair the damage are not ambitious enough.
That is according to members of the Irish Hotels Federation who this evening are gathering for their annual conference in Killarney.
According to the federation there was a marginal increase in overseas visitors in 2012, but visitors from Britain were down by 100,000.
Tim Fenn, chief executive of the federation said a lot more needed to be done to address the persistently difficult British market which was not the “single biggest challenge”, with the fall since 2007 amounting to more than 30 percent.
Mr Fenn said the further drop in visitors from Britain last year at a time when other markets were starting to recover, was “a stark reminder of the amount of ground lost” which now amounted to 2.7 million visits to Ireland.
The federation claims the Government target of an additional 200,000 visitors per annum from the UK, by 2016, is “clearly” not ambitious enough.
“A more aggressive approach needs to be adopted with campaigns aimed at attracting a greater spread of visitors to the regions and promoting specific reasons to visit – whether activity-based or focusing on heritage and culture,” said Mr Fenn.
“When people think of holidaying in Ireland, the image should be of a fun and vibrant destination – blessed with a wealth of scenic attractions, steeped in history and culture and offering a warm and friendly welcome. The key challenge lies in getting our marketing message right and giving holidaymakers new and compelling reasons to visit Ireland”
Official statistics record a three percent increase in visitors from North America last year. Mr Fenn said part of this was due to the Emerald Isle Classic American football game held in Dublin. Mr Fenn said this was “an excellent example of the type of initiative that works exceptionally well. This saw thousands of Americans travel to Ireland, contributing greatly to tourism. ”
In 2012, overall tourism revenue across the sector remained stagnant at €5.7 billion. Revenues were made up of €4 billion from foreign exchange earnings and €1.73 billion from the domestic market, which experienced a percent decline on revenue year-on-year. The dependence on the home market continued in 2012, with 70 percent of hotel bed nights coming from island of Ireland.