Irish tourism sector is facing collapse

 

Sir, – The Minister for Finance has stated (News, September 30th) that the damage to the Irish economy has not been as serious as feared due to the strong performance of our multinational exporting sectors compensating for the contraction of the domestic economy.

The tourism sector is one of Ireland’s leading exporting sectors. In 2018 it attracted 9.3 million visitors who spent €5.1 billion. This huge contribution is likely to completely disappear this year. Surely this enormous collapse merits attention in the Department of Finance.

I would suggest that this omission is not new. It reflects a failure over many decades to have dedicated policies for this industry, which is one of Ireland’s very few indigenous industries that is also internationally competitive.

The ministry in charge of it is also in charge of arts, culture, sport and the Gaeltacht. This suggests that Irish policymakers do not take tourism seriously.

The view seems to be that in Ireland, tourism just happens, much like the weather. The pandemic is going to ruthlessly expose these policy weaknesses.

What is urgently needed is imaginative policy-thinking about Irish tourism. In particular genuine scenario analysis ought to be conducted, where a small number of possible futures for tourism are considered, based not just the progress of the virus over the coming months and years, but also the likely behavioural responses by prospective tourists, tourism businesses and, last but by no means least, by the Government itself. – Yours, etc,

EOIN O’LEARY,

(Emeritus Professor

of Economics ,UCC),

Cork.