Tourism revenue in the south-east reached a record high last year, but not everyone is benefiting equally from the boom. Overall revenue is estimated to have topped £275 million, compared with £267 million in 1998.
In common with other regions, however, there is evidence of a drift towards towns and cities, where the bulk of recent tourism investment has been, both in accommodation and facilities.
In addition the south-east, and the rural tourism sector in particular, faces particular problems of its own. With an increasing percentage of visitors coming here by air rather than sea, the region, which has no major airport, is placed at a significant disadvantage.
Mr Joe Palmer, manager of the South East Regional Tourism Authority, said there was also a large increase in the numbers coming for short stays, a market which rural operators find it particularly difficult to tap into.
The region, however, was holding its own in the face of these obstacles, he said. The key for rural tourism interests was to develop linkages with other activities in their areas, enabling them to offer more imaginative and higher-quality products than was necessary in the past.
"Rural-based B & B owners and country houses without linkages to activity tourism will find it difficult, and this is one of the messages we've been trying to get across," he said.
More than half of last year's tourism revenue came from the domestic market, with just under 50 per cent spent by visitors from overseas. While domestic spending was particularly strong, this was counterbalanced by a slowdown in growth from Britain.
SERTA staff undertook more than 40 individual promotions in 25 countries last year in the course of a £350,000 marketing campaign for the region. This year's campaign is already under way and details of "Marketing Tourism 2000" will be announced at a Bord Failte seminar in the Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny at 6 p.m. on Monday, January 10th.