Minister announces tourism policy review

 

The Minister for Tourism, Mr O'Donoghue, has announced a major review of tourism policy in response to growing concern about the price and quality of tourism in Ireland.

The review will examine the competitiveness of the industry; the development of new products; environmental and infrastructural requirements; marketing; access transport; the quality of support for tourist businesses; and research.

Yesterday, Mr O'Donoghue said there had been no review of tourism policy since the current boom began. "Much has changed in the meantime. After 10 successful years of uninterrupted growth up to 2000, the industry is now operating in a more turbulent environment." He said these developments should not mask the growing concerns about the price and quality of the product that Ireland now offered to customers. "The industry needs to sharpen its competitive edge and to become more innovative in order to capitalise on the massive investment of €4.3 billion in tourism which has taken place over the past decade," he said.

The review will be led by the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, in consultation with the tourism industry. The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation recently produced its own assessment of the challenges which face Irish tourism. The review will also draw on external specialist consultancy advice and is expected to be completed next spring.

Mr O'Donoghue said the industry now generates €4 billion in annual foreign revenue earnings and €1.2 billion in domestic expenditure. "Employment in the industry is estimated at 150,000. Visitor numbers, at 6 million in 2001, have doubled over the past 11 years and foreign revenue earnings have increased threefold over the same period.

"What is required now is an appropriate policy approach to enable us to exploit the undoubted international growth potential that exists in tourism in the 21st century," the Minister concluded.

News of the review was welcomed last night by Tourism Ireland, the company which markets the island of Ireland as a holiday destination overseas. The company's chief executive, Mr Paul O'Toole, said the tourism product sold by Ireland must be competitive.

"The consumer has a world of choice and if we don't meet their requirements then they will choose to go elsewhere."