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23.02.2015

HOTELS CHIEF CALLS FOR MORE AMBITIOUS TOURISM GROWTH TARGETS

Increased Funding Needed for Tourism Marketing and Development

 

  • Government funding for tourism marketing and development down €25m since 2012
  • Target of 10 million annual overseas visitors achievable by 2020, creating 50,000 new jobs
  • IHF calls for reversal of cuts to funding for Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland
  • We cannot afford to take the prospects for tourism growth for granted, says IHF

     

    Monday, 23rd February 2015: The long-term sustainable growth of Irish tourism is being put at risk by a lack of adequate funding for tourism marketing and development, over 300 delegates at the Irish Hotels Federation's (IHF) 77th Annual Conference heard today. Stephen McNally, President of the IHF said that the funding allocation for the State's tourism bodies has been cut back substantially since the downturn and now needs to be reinstated. He adds that, with additional funding, the Government target of 10 million visitors generating an additional 50,000 new jobs could be achieved by 2020 as opposed to the current target of 2025. 

     

    Since 2012, annual Government funding for Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland has been cut by €25m to €119m (down 17%), resulting in significantly constrained budgets for tourism marketing and development. This has come at a time when tourism has shown itself to be an excellent investment for the country, contributing over €6.45bn to the economy annually and employing 205,000 people. 

     

    "Every euro spent on tourism marketing and development by the State supports €54 in tourism revenues in the Irish economy – which is an excellent return on investment by any standard," says Mr McNally. "It is now time to reverse the cuts to tourism funding, which were made at a time of deep economic crisis. Current low levels of investment cannot be sustained without putting our tourism brand at risk and limiting Irish tourism's capacity to continue to expand and grow market share."

     

    Breakdown of tourism funding allocation – 2012 versus 2015:

    • 2012 – Total tourism allocation: €144m:

Fáilte Ireland: €96m (tourism product development and domestic marketing).

Tourism Ireland: €48m (overseas marketing)

 

    • 2015 – Total tourism allocation: €119m (down 17.5% on 2012):

Fáilte Ireland: €79m (tourism product development and domestic marketing)

Tourism Ireland: €40m (overseas marketing)

 

 

"We cannot afford to take the prospects for tourism growth for granted," says Mr McNally. "While strong tourism growth has been achieved over the last two years, the industry is only at the beginning of a long journey. A lot more needs to be done before tourism reaches its full potential as an engine of growth and job creation. Increased funding is now needed to enable us to deliver our tourism product messages more effectively into our target markets."

 

Noting that the Government aims to grow overseas visitors to 10 million per annum by 2025, thereby creating an additional 50,000 jobs, Mr McNally says: "While we welcome these targets, we would maintain that they should be more ambitious given the wider outlook for tourism in Europe. With additional resources, we believe Tourism Ireland could be well placed to meet these targets by 2020."

 

Challenges around regional tourism

Another pressing challenge facing the industry is the need to attract more visitors to the regions. Unfortunately, recent growth in overseas visitors has not been spread evenly across the country and many rural tourism businesses continue to face tough trading conditions. This is a major challenge given the vital social and economic role that tourism employment plays in rural areas.

 

"We need to create a more unified approach that gives tourism a stronger role in informing and influencing planning and development policy at national and local levels," says Mr McNally. "While we welcome the significant progress that is already being made in this area, more needs to be done to ensure greater collaboration between tourism industry partners, including businesses, local communities, state agencies and local authorities."

 

With the Government due to publish its Tourism Policy Statement shortly, Mr McNally states that greater collaboration will stand to the industry in the years ahead and ensure Irish tourism is well placed to grow and prosper – the benefits of which will be felt across the entire country. 

 

ENDS

 

FOR INFORMATION:

Eoin Quinn / Siobhan Molloy                       Dublin office: 01 6798600

Weber Shandwick                                           Mobile: 087 233 2191 / 086 817 50 66

 

 

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