Fáilte Ireland eyeing Asian boon

Pádraig Hoare

Direct flights to Asia provides Irish tourism with a burgeoning middle class to exploit, Fáilte Ireland’s chairman has said.

Michael Cawley, who was speaking at the monthly business breakfast of Cork Chamber in Carrigaline, said the introduction of flights between Dublin and Hong Kong by Cathay Pacific and China’s Hainan Airlines between Beijing and Dublin was a potential boon to tourism in the Republic.

The former Ryanair deputy chief executive said one of the aims of Fáilte Ireland is to spread tourist visits and spend around the country.

“One of our targets is to get people out of Dublin...it has had enough tourists for a while, it is time it is spread around,” Mr Cawley said.

He said the business tourism market was also a lucrative one.

for Irish tourism operators.

“People who come here on business come back as tourists. Once we get them into the country, then we can move them around the country,” he said.

Overseas tourist spend is up 65% since 2012, with overseas numbers up 43%, he said.

There was a danger of imbalance, he added, with attractions such as the Cliffs of Moher becoming overcrowded while unheralded Knowth in Meath was going unnoticed despite having a massive chunk of art from the Stone Age.

that was bigger than most other European countries.

Mr Cawley warned counties from going on a “solo run” when promoting themselves, urging stakeholders to work with Fáilte Ireland “who had done all the research”.

and is happy to share it”.

Recent calls by tourism organisations to spend millions on marketing was “rubbish” because proper management was the key factor, not more spending for the sake of it, he said.

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