Tourism booming but industry 'needs €50m yearly funds'
BOOMING numbers of tourists visiting Ireland this year will come close to the record-breaking 2007 tourist season - but more investment is needed, say tourism industry chiefs.
Almost 7.5 million overseas visitors are expected to visit here in 2014, just a whisker short of the 2007 record.
But a big increase in Government spending on marketing and development incentives is needed immediately, said Paul Carty, chairman of the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC).
"Cost pressures make it difficult for Irish tourism enterprises to price themselves competitively in the marketplace, as the price of any tourism experience... make Ireland an expensive destination," he said in a pre-Budget submission to the Minister for Finance.
ITIC want a €15m capital commitment through Failte Ireland next year and a €50m annual capital fund for boosting tourism ventures from 2016 to 2020.
The 9pc VAT rate for the tourist sector needs to continue and a drop in excise duty on alcohol would help tourism, Mr Carty claimed.
Government assistance to the industry helped to create 36,000 new jobs in the tourist sector which accounted for 70pc of all new jobs in the Irish economy.
More Government action will yield even more jobs, he said.
Meanwhile, a new sales mission to China will aim to encourage further big increases in Chinese tourists visiting Ireland.
In 2012, 17,000 Chinese tourists visited Ireland. Around twice that number visited Ireland last year.
The sales mission, involving Tourism Ireland and 18 Irish tourism enterprises, will visit Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou later this month.
Members will meet with Chinese travel agents and tour operators who are currently selling the island of Ireland, or who have strong potential to sell the destination. The Irish delegation will encourage them to extend their Ireland offering, or to include Ireland for the first time, in their brochures and programmes.
Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said the mission seeks to win a greater share of the three million plus Chinese visitors who travel to Europe each year.
"Tourism Ireland is committed to growing Chinese visitor numbers to the island of Ireland to 50,000 per year," he said.
Tourism Ireland's activity in China involves engaging with the travel trade, airlines and media to highlight Ireland's natural attractions, cities, castles and proximity to Britain, he said.
And a new survey showed Dublin hotel prices increasing faster than average hotel rates worldwide.
The survey of hotel prices in 115 cities by Hotels.com showed that, while the world hotel room average prices rose 4pc in the first six months of 2014, London prices rose 9pc to £127, Edinburgh prices were up 7pc to £102 and Dublin room rates rose 10pc to €110.
Hotels.com vice president Matt Walls said that hotels in the countries that suffered worst from the global recession gained in strength and, as a result, room rates rose considerably in Ireland, Greece and Iceland.
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