Tourism industry must provide value for money , warn bosses

Overseas tourists do not perceive Ireland as a rip-off destination but tourism bosses warn that the industry must provide value for money to achieve ambitious growth targets.

Overseas tourists do not perceive Ireland as a rip-off destination but tourism bosses warn that the industry must provide value for money to achieve ambitious growth targets.

Tourism Ireland aims to increase overseas tourism revenue to €6.54bn (13%) and visitor numbers to 12m (7%) by 2022.

The marketing body's chief executive Niall Gibbons said perceived value for money had deteriorated, particularly in mainland Europe and to a lesser extent in Britain.

“But, all in all, when you take the price of getting here, the price of accommodation and the price of the all-round holiday visit, there certainly is not a rip-off perception abroad,” said Mr Gibbons.

"Our watch-word today is that the industry has to deliver value for money in the next three years otherwise we won't be able to deliver on the ambitious growth targets that we have set."

Around 500 tourism industry chiefs attended the unveiling of Tourism Ireland's Marketing plans in Dublin.

Also at the event was Tourism Minister Brendan Griffin, who said a contribution of close to €6bn to the economy from overseas tourists is expected this year.

"Despite the challenges we have faced this year, we head into 2020 in a relatively strong position," he said.

Mr Gibbons, who described Brexit as a key risk, said it would come into sharp focus again next month, the deadline set for Britain's departure from the EU.

There was also concern about an economic slowdown in Germany, Ireland's third-largest market.

Mr Gibbons said it was the first time there had been a decline in air access for about eight years and pointed out that there was a 4% decrease in the number of seats on sale this winter.

This was largely due to the withdrawal of services by Norwegian and the suspension of services by Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines and Hainan Airlines.

While several new services would operate from Cork and Shannon Airports, there were no major new announcements on the horizon.

“Aer Lingus said they would extend their services to the US next year but that will compensate for the loss of Norwegian,” said Mr Gibbons.

Describing the picture as “flattish” as they headed into next year, Mr Gibbons said the passenger "load factor" on existing airlines needed to be maximised.

From January 2020, Tourism Ireland's Fill Your Heart With Ireland campaign that will feature a range of less-visited attractions and locations will be rolled out in more than 20 markets across the world.

The campaign aims to connect more emotionally with prospective visitors, promising them that spending time in Ireland will restore their lust for life.

Over the next three years, the tourism body will redevelop its international website, that attracted more than 23m visits this year.

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