THE tourism industry has joined other sectors in sending out distress signals calling on the government to implement a plan drawn up last January.
The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC) said 2008 was proving particularly challenging for the mid-west and west of Ireland regions with many external factors impacting on the season.
An ITIC report, launched in Adare, warned the short term prospects are not as encouraging as this time last year.
“We are calling for the implementation in full and without delay of the Shannon Airport Catchment Area-Economic and Tourism Development Plan.
“It called for the establishment of an independent and financially viable Shannon Airport Authority; continued funding of the Discover Ireland’s Wonderful West programme; improved transport links with Shannon, Donegal and Kerry along with investment in the development of broadband communication to improve competitiveness.”
The confederation said it wished to work with airlines to secure all existing transatlantic services at Shannon, particularly winter services, while continuing to seek new route development opportunities. It has also called for increased funding for the Discover Ireland’s Wonderful West Campaign for Autumn 2008 and Spring 2009.
“While we are faced with increasingly challenging times with the global downturn and rising prices, particularly of fuel, the Irish tourism product is strong and offers very good value for money to all our visitors,” chairman of ITIC, Dick Bourke said.
“We remain optimistic but there are many actions we need to take to improve the tourism industry, particularly in the Shannon and west of Ireland regions. This report highlights some of those actions which we hope will be enthusiastically implemented.”
John King, heritage and tourism director of Shannon Development, said the immediate challenge facing the region was securing existing access and related services in difficult times.
“Many of the current problems facing the sector will diminish in time, and Shannon and the West must remain positioned to take full advantage of this recovery,” Mr King said.
“Connectivity, marketing and tourism product development will remain key to this aspiration.”
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