Environmentally, the increasing number of visitors is unintentionally degrading the area that they come to see and admire most in the Burren. Also there are negative reactions to the crowds at the Cliffs of Moher, the Blarney Stone, Glendalough and Dublin.
There are reports of intermittent crowding by bus loads of tourists at Cork’s English Market. Unfortunately, our economic system is geared to requiring continual growth and that is just not possible.
In 1900, the world population was 1.6bn. At the beginning of the Second World War in 1939, the population had climbed to 2.5bn and it is now 7.6bn. The planet cannot support that entire population living at the standard of us in the most prosperous countries of the World.
Ireland is the only country in Western Europe with a lower population today than in the early 1800s and we should preserve that unique position in order to maintain our quality of life. Once we increase, there is no going back. However, ESRI and other estimates plan on us growing by 2m (approximately 40%) in the foreseeable future.
Our tourism numbers are a product of increased population and prosperity.
I think we should resist population growth and, for tourism, we should concentrate in offering static numbers unique and increased value for money. We must not lose sight of the basics in that visitors come to Ireland for its natural beauty and the friendliness of the people. Once we degrade our environmental beauty and adopt a “move ‘em in and move ’em out” attitude, we shall be killing the golden goose.
Desmond Sharp Bolster
This reader's opinion was first published in the print edition of the Irish Examiner on 08 October 2019.