Tourism chiefs to plan recovery strategy after difficult 2001


Tourism chiefs in the south east meet tomorrow to discuss a recovery strategy for the industry following the setbacks which made 2001 a difficult year.

The region, however, did not lose quite as much ground as other parts of the country due to its relatively high dependence on the domestic market and low reliance on business from the US.

While results for last year have yet to be determined, a national decline in visitor numbers of 10 per cent, with a drop in revenue of about €300 million, is anticipated.

The losses are attributed to the foot-and-mouth crisis early in the year and the attacks in the United States on September 11th.

US visitors, while accounting for only 15 per cent of overseas arrivals, contribute 23 per cent to foreign tourism earnings nationally.

A typical US visitor will stay longer and spend more than twice that of a British holidaymaker, according to South East Tourism. US business, however, accounts for only one-sixth of total tourism revenue in the region.

While others were lamenting the drop in visitors from the US towards the end of last year, the south east was benefiting from the new-look Discover Ireland campaign which brought significant additional business to the region in the autumn.

The priority for this year, says South East Tourism chief executive, Mr Joe Palmer, will be to achieve growth in domestic tourism and expand business from Britain and northern Europe.

About 300 representatives of the industry are expected to attend tomorrow evening's event at the Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny, at which a recovery strategy for the industry will be presented.

Tourism Ireland, the marketing agency set up as a result of the Belfast Agreement, will outline the first all-Ireland promotional strategy.

Presentations will also be made by South East Tourism and Bord Fáilte, which retains a promotional role within the Republic.

The most hopeful outcome for 2002, according to Mr Palmer, is a return to year 2000 levels of business.

That would equate to tourism earnings of €420 million and visitor numbers of 2.3 million in the south east.