Spend, not numbers, focus of the new tourism drive

Plans have been drawn up to revive The Gathering, a tourism campaign that in 2013 helped boost visitor numbers by 7%.

Tourism Minister Paschal Donohoe yesterday launched a reworking of the project over a 10-year period. It is hoped the revival will boost visitor spending by up to 50% and make the sector worth €5bn a year by 2025.

The policy statement yesterday sees a shift in focus from simply growing the number of trips to Ireland by overseas visitors to increasing the economic contribution of the tourists.

The strategy, ‘People, Place, and Policy-Growing Tourism to 2025’, was announced by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Mr Donohoe at a ceremony in Kilkenny Castle yesterday.

Mr Donohoe said: “After a significant decline in the period 2008 to 2010, we have witnessed four years of successive growth in our overseas visit numbers.

“We want to ensure this momentum is maintained in the longer term to benefit not just those directly involved in tourism but also the economy as a whole.”

He said the new policy “represents a fundamental examination, and a clear statement, of what we want to achieve for Irish tourism in the coming decade”.

“It sets out ambitious targets for growth in overseas visits and associated revenue, and increased tourism employment,” Mr Donohoe said.

It is hoped the new drive will not alone increase revenue to €5bn a year but also 250,000 jobs in the tourism sector compared to the current figure of 200,000.

Mr Donohoe said he would shortly be announcing the membership of a tourism leadership group to oversee an initial three-year tourism action plan.

“While the targets we have set are ambitious, I have no doubt that by working together, we will achieve them,” he said.

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