Rise in tourists seeking help after a crime

The organisation that supports tourists who get into difficulty, including falling victim to crime, says it has had an increase in the number of cases it has dealt with this year compared with last.

Rise in tourists seeking help after a crime

The Irish Tourists Assistance Service (ITAS) said so far this year it has dealt with 291 cases involving 544 tourists, compared with 278 cases to the same date last year.

With the summer months prompting a spike in demand for its services, ITAS said 79% of all cases it has dealt with this year occurred in Dublin — contrasting with the 11 cases in Co Wicklow in which it offered assistance, eight in Galway, six in Louth and five in Cork.

In 88% of all cases the tourist was referred to the ITAS for help by the gardaí.

As for the difficulties experienced by tourists to Ireland, there were 122 cases where they fell victim to theft from their person, while in 37 cases the victim had items stolen from their car.

There were four assaults, 10 robberies, three cases of fraud and five burglaries.

ITAS said there were another five cases where ‘other crimes’ had been committed and 105 cases described as “traumatic incidents”, including lost property, accidents/illness, missed flights, and having no funds.

According to Lisa Kennedy, the chief executive of ITAS: “Most of the situations where our assistance has been sought involved theft of some nature where passports, money and credit/bank cards have been stolen.

“Tourists’ needs can be varied and complex and there are many difficulties facing them — they may not speak the language or may be travelling on their own and have no support network. ITAS offer immediate support and assistance in these situations.

“Many tourists are left stranded without the means to support themselves and we work very closely with the tourism and hospitality industry to offer tourists complimentary accommodation, meals and transport in the short term.”

She said that to date this year, 86% of tourists who contacted ITAS have continued with their holiday plans afterwards.

The rise in the number of cases dealt with by ITAS this year may also be a reflection on greater tourist numbers.

Figures published this week by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed that in the period May to July this year, the total number of trips to Ireland increased by 11.8% to 2,589,300 — an overall increase of 273,600 compared to the same period in 2014.

Fáilte Ireland’s director of business development, Paul Keeley, said the figures suggested 2015 would be a “record-breaker” for the Irish tourism sector.

“On current trends, we may eventually welcome up to 7.7m to our shores this year,” he said.

The number of cases in which tourists fall victim to crime is tiny compared to the overall number of visitors, but some cases still make headlines.

In May three Americans were attacked by a group of up to eight youths in a park in Swords in north Dublin, while last month an English man waiting for a tour bus on O’Connell St was approached by a man who then attacked him with a bottle.

In the latter incident a 20-year-old man was later arrested and questioned at Store Street Garda station before being brought before a sitting of Dublin District Court.

In the Swords incident, Ryan Dillon; his girlfriend, Nicole Berube; and her grandmother, Elaine, were set upon near Swords Castle and their camera bag was stolen. Three people — two female juveniles and one adult male — were arrested in connection with the investigation, which is continuing.

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