The chief executive of Fáilte Ireland has warned that the attractiveness of Ireland as a holiday destination could be damaged unless a regional imbalance in the tourism industry
In comments in the 2018 annual report, Paul Kelly said research showed that currently over 70 per cent of overseas visitors spend overnights in just five counties – Dublin, Cork, Galway, Kerry and Clare.
He said the industry was facing the prospect of congestion at popular tourism hotspots, which could significantly affect Ireland’s attractiveness as a destination unless more tourists were encouraged to visit other parts of the country.
“If we cannot ensure a greater regional spread of tourism activity the sector’s potential for generating revenue and jobs will remain untapped in many parts of Ireland where there is capacity for more tourism growth and a need for job-creation,” said Mr Kelly.
He said spreading tourists across all regions of the country and extending the tourism season to allow businesses to remain open for longer was the key driver of Fáilte Ireland’s work and strategy.
Mr Kelly said Fáilte Ireland’s regional brands, which include the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East, remained the key driver in achieving such objectives.
The report showed record levels of overseas visitors and expenditure in 2018, with foreign tourists up 6 per cent to 9.6 million and associated spending also up 6 per cent to €5.2 billion.
The domestic market recorded even stronger growth, with the number of domestic holidays up 13 per cent to 10.9 million.
Six out of 10 tourism accommodation providers reported an increase in business last year.
Despite the positive figures, Mr Kelly said Irish tourism was also facing many obstacles and challenges which might surprise many outside the industry.
He pointed out that many businesses were only open for a few months per year, with some only trading for up to 12 weeks.
“We need to continue to support businesses to stay open longer so they can extend their season and thereby increase their revenue and job-creation. To do this we need to create the attractions, events and value offering that will entice tourist to come here beyond the summer.”