The new group, chaired by Tourism Minister Paschal Donohoe, will be tasked with drawing up a Tourism Action Plan for 2018 and implementing the objectives of the Government’s tourism policy document for 2025.
The action plan will be the first in a series of three-year plans with the aim of growing overseas visitor revenue to €5bn per year by 2025. It also aims to grow tourism employment from 200,000 to 250,000 and to increase overseas visits from 7.6m last year to 10m by 2025.
The group will hold a series of meetings with key tourism stakeholders over the coming months, while a secretariat, provided by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, will engage in additional meetings with a range of public and private bodies on and report back to the main group. It is expected that the plan will be published within six months.
Mr Donohoe said the purpose of the group was to turn the vision for Irish tourism into actions.
“The Government’s tourism policy document, People, Place and Policy; Growing Tourism to 2025, sets out our long-term goals and a policy framework to develop tourism in Ireland. Now I want to see that long-term vision turned into specific actions, with responsibilities for implementing them clearly set out with deadlines.”
The group will be made up of representatives from Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Ireland, hoteliers, tour operators, local authorities, and chambers of commerce.
President of the Irish Hotels Federation, Stephen McNally, who has also been appointed to the leadership group, said the importance of tourism to the economy could not be overstated.
“The Government’s continued strong focus on tourism is critical for the many thousands of tourism businesses throughout the country and is an important recognition of Irish tourism’s potential to continue delivering much-needed jobs growth,” he said.
Mr McNally said the sector had created 33,000 jobs since 2011 but that it was only the beginning of the recovery in Irish tourism.
“A lot more can be achieved as outlined in the Government’s tourism policy, building on the unprecedented levels of collaboration that now exist between tourism industry partners — including closer co-ordination among businesses, local communities, state agencies and local authorities.”
The new group comes as a new tourism taskforce hopes to launch a unified marketing strategy promoting the Cork region abroad later this year.
Chaired by businessman Ger O’Mahony, the taskforce is bringing together the main stakeholders in the city and county. The strategy is expected to include the region’s food culture, its scenic coastline, and its position as a gateway to both the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East tourist routes.