A new lobby group for tourism businesses in Dublin is trying to recruit members amid criticisms of a State-backed tourism branding initiative for the city.
Dublin Tourism Business Association (DTBA) was launched in recent weeks, with the aim of amplifying the voice of the city's privately-owned tourism businesses.
The Dublin tourism market is currently booming, but faces threats such as being heavily exposed to British visitors, the numbers of which will come under pressure following the sterling currency woes precipitated by the Brexit vote.
DTBA chief executive David Brennan said he has detected a feeling among some tourism businesses in the capital, especially smaller operations, that they are "not being listened to" by policymakers.
He said he supports the work of Fáilte Ireland, but that he is disappointed at the organisation's brand and logo for the city. The brand – "Dublin: A Breath of Fresh Air" – was first launched a year ago.
Mr Brennan said: “We support the concept of one logo for Dublin. But we would have wished for a stronger, more vibrant one than what we have.”
He said DTBA has met officials from Fáilte Ireland, although he said he was “disappointed” the organisation had “not come back to us” to discuss a major piece of research of the city’s tourism businesses that DTBA is working on.
Fáilte Ireland and several of the city’s private tourism businesses have again provided funds for a related €1.6 million campaign in the UK for the forthcoming off season.
Fáilte Ireland said it had met DTBA representatives “several times” and would “continue to work with the group”.
As regards the attitude of tourist businesses to its branding efforts for the city, Fáilte Ireland said the involvement of private businesses in helping to fund the upcoming marketing campaign showed a “vote of confidence” in its efforts.
Mr Brennan is a former chief executive of Dublin City Business Association (DCBA), which was wound up voluntarily earlier this year after more than 40 years. It had net assets of about €100,000, according to its last set of accounts.
Mr Brennan confirmed that the outgoing DCBA board had decided to provide funding to a new tourism lobby group for the city “as a gift”, and that this cash was currently helping to fund the DTBA.
“There is a need for a Dublin tourism group, a private one that is not State-funded,” said Mr Brennan.
“The city’s tourism sector is fragmented – it doesn’t speak with a single voice. A large number of businesses feel they are not being listened to,” he suggested.
“We want to speak for the sector in the city. We also want our members to cross-promote each other, and to come together to lobby at policy level.”
Mr Brennan said there had been a “huge interest” from city businesses, but he declined to say how many had signed up. He said Viking Splash Tours was “very interested” in DTBA, and that its survey work had also identified many tourism business he believed were interested in becoming involved.