The recession has had an impact on tourism just as it has had on every sector in the economy.
Though 6.5m visitors came to Ireland during the year numbers from Britain, traditionally one of our most reliable markets, fell by an estimated 4%.
This fall may be balanced by a 2% increase from Europe to 2.4m visitors and a similar increase from North America to almost 1m.
However, this does not mean we can be any way complacent or that we can stop what is essentially a programme of continuous improvement if we are to secure a good share of the international tourism market. The Gathering will play a role but we need to do much more, especially in protecting our reputation as a green, environmentally aware destination. Like it or not BIM’s plans for Europe’s biggest salmon farm off the Aran islands will impinge on that and damage angling tourism too.
There are also issues around the availability of good, value-for-money restaurants, especially for families. Anyone familiar with what is available abroad will confirm this. However, the sector has shown it is more than capable of meeting the needs of the day — especially if more of us support it using restaurants or by taking holidays at home.
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