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Tourism sector seeks E65m investment

Monday, September 01 12:07:21

Tourism is on the rebound after years of significant decline but a total investment of E65m is needed to secure growth through to 2020, according to a pre-Budget submission from the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC).

A key recommendation from ITIC is a E15 million capital commitment through Failte Ireland in 2015 and a E50 million annual capital fund for tourism product for the period 2016 to 2020.

It has noted improved competitiveness and product investment as key factors in maintaining growth in the sector. After one of the longest periods of recession and the sharpest decline in visitor numbers, the industry is finally emerging into a growth period, it said.

In 2014 overseas visitor arrivals are expected to grow by 8pc, delivering the best result since 2008, with the three largest source markets, Britain, North America and Germany performing particularly well. Almost 7.5 million overseas visitors are expected by the year's end, just a whisker short of the record numbers achieved in peak year 2007.

However, according to the ITIC Chairman Paul Carty, "sustained growth is not assured unless we can deliver further competitive gains. Ireland remains a high cost location for a range of business inputs, and enhancing cost competitiveness must therefore be a key economic priority for Government. He added, "Cost pressures make it difficult for Irish tourism enterprises to price themselves competitively in the marketplace, as the price of any tourism experience is a combination of inputs, which combined make Ireland an expensive destination." According to the Confederation, lack of investment in recent years has taken its toll on the quality and variety of the Irish tourism experience, and it recommends a substantial increase in product investment over the coming years.

The Government's capital fund for tourism in recent years has been approximately E20 million annually and this according to ITIC is well below the relative value produced by the sector, as well as being significantly lower investment than in other industries. This investment is only one tenth of the support given to the agri-food sector, even though employment in tourism exceeds that in agri-food by as much as 25pc, it said.

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