The head of Fáilte Ireland has warned, in its annual report, the attractiveness of Ireland as a holiday destination could be damaged unless a regional imbalance in the tourism industry is addressed.
However, the national tourism development authority has welcomed as “a major vote of confidence” the Government’s announcement of €16.3m in funding for four tourism-focused projects as part of its wider rural regeneration and development fund.
In its annual report, Fáilte Ireland chief executive Paul Kelly said research showed that currently over 70% of overseas visitors spend overnights in just five counties — Dublin, Cork, Galway, Kerry and Clare.
Mr Kelly said the industry was facing the prospect of congestion at popular tourism hotspots which could significantly impact on Ireland’s attractiveness as a destination unless more tourists were encouraged to visit other parts of the country.
“If we cannot ensure a greater regional spread of tourism activity, the sector’s potential for generating revenue and jobs will remain untapped in many parts of Ireland where there is capacity for more tourism growth and a need for job creation,” he said.
He said spreading tourists across all regions of the country and extending the tourism season to allow businesses remain open for longer was the key driver of Fáilte Ireland’s work and strategy.
Mr Kelly said Fáilte Ireland’s regional brands, which include the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East, remained the key driver to achieve such objectives.