April 25th, 1929
FROM THE ARCHIVES:Figuring out what tourists wanted was the objective of a conference of hoteliers in 1929 and there was no shortage of opinions, judging by this report. - JOE JOYCE
Mr. Manning Robertson, A.R.I.B.A., M.R.I.A.I., read a paper dealing with suggestions concerning Irish seaside resorts. He said they should ask themselves what the tourist wanted and what he obtained elsewhere, and see whether they could supply a recognised demand and even improve upon what the tourist got elsewhere.
No Englishman from a big city, who chose an Irish seaside holiday, would expect or wish to find Margate or Blackpool. He craved for natural beauty; but he and his family also liked recreation, local colour, light music and easy transport. Cheap-jack appeal was not going to keep him or pay us.
Our coasts could not cater for the one-day over-seas tripper. If we were to put up a successful show in securing summer holiday visitors and in keeping them for a month at a time, we must examine where it is that foreign resorts succeed, and where we might expect to do better.
Dealing with the question of appropriate buildings and the use of attractive vegetation, he invited them to imagine Monte Carlo if her buildings were like those of Bray or Greystones cement-coloured, Welsh-slated, sometimes alternated with English Tudor villas; and if she were surrounded by her native Riviera vegetation alone – no palms, no mimosas, no eucalyptus, no bamboos. Imagination could not encompass the scene.
Was there, he asked, any reasonable objection, or expense, to prevent us from cheering up our existing buildings or from using our amazing climate and fertile soil to better advantage?
No one coming to Ireland wanted to spend his holiday in half mourning. The Tourist Association might offer prizes for a colour-wash week, followed by a carnival. In all these matters they needed a more go-ahead force of public opinion . . .
Mrs. Maud Walsh said that there was little doubt that Ireland was slowly but surely finding its place on the tourist map, and nothing could stay the new development if our own people would address themselves to the task with earnestness and zeal.
“Ask any of the people who spent the weekend at the seaside, the mountain, lake and woodlands what they thought of our wayside hotels,” said Mrs. Walsh.
“With one voice they will assure you that the difficulty of finding the wayside inn, where one could have an appetising meal, is almost insuperable, and in the larger hotels there is much to be desired.” . . .
Why did so many motorists make use of the tea basket and its discomforts? Because the tea shops, the tea gardens or hotels had failed to attract them, had failed through lack of cleanliness, lack of thought, lack of imagination in providing the dainty, interesting meal. There might be some excuse if the prices charged were not just as high as in a first- class Dublin, London or Paris hotel.
Local Committees could attend to matters of this kind and in planning visitors’ excursions and making them feel they were wanted and welcome.