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Tourism ‘welcome’ far from inviting

I recently travelled to Ireland with my wife, son and daughter-in-law. It had been six years since my wife had been to Ireland.

We arrived in Dublin airport, paid for our rental car and headed to the rental car company’s pick-up location. We boarded the van. My wife exclaimed “I am so happy to be in Ireland. I missed it so much”.

Our driver responded with the following comment: “Ireland is a dump. I wouldn’t tell anyone to visit here. It is so expensive.” Needless to say that was the end of our conversation.

I would like to say the following to that car rental company employee — if you hate Ireland so much, get out of the tourism business. Your government spends millions encouraging people to visit Ireland. Yes, you could have been having a bad day. It could be worse. You could be unemployed.

I spent a lot of money to bring my family to Ireland. We rented a car, stayed in hotels, purchased gifts. We contributed to the economy.

Tourism Ireland should spend some of their funding on improving the attitude of individuals involved in the tourist business. The people who are paid to serve their customers. Take a page from the Japanese, who hire students to work as welcoming ambassadors at airports and train stations.

I am writing this as a concerned expatriate. I promote trips to Ireland through my company. What would I be able to say if one of my clients, visiting Ireland for the first time, had the same experience?

Ed O’Donovan
O’Donovan Travel
South Carolina


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