IHF Diary

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06.08.2014
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe T.D., leads the tributes to the Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS) as it marks its twenty year anniversary assisting tourist victims of crime
Lisa Kennedy ITAS CEO, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Pascal Donohoe and Martin Holohan ITAS Chairman at the Launch of the ITAS Annual Report and 20th Anniversary of the Service at the Guinness Storehouse.
 
Over the past 20 years; 
- Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS) has dealt with over 7,500 cases of tourist crime and other traumatic incidents.
- Almost 13,000 tourists from 50 different countries have been the beneficiaries of assistance from the Service
- The majority of tourists that received assistance from ITAS have been victims of thefts. 
- On average 86% of victimised tourists continued their holiday after ITAS intervention
 
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Mr. Paschal Donohoe was the keynote speaker at an event hosted by the Guinness Storehouse to mark the 20 year anniversary of the Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS). ITAS was established in 1994 to offer immediate support and assistance to tourists who experience crime while visiting Ireland. 
 
Speaking at the event Minister Donohoe said: “For the small percentage of tourists who become victims of crime while visiting Ireland, ITAS provides professional assistance and support. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved with this unique service – staff, volunteers and members of the tourism and hospitality industry for their continued support and goodwill towards ITAS”. 
“Ireland remains one of the safest destinations for tourists and the Gardaí are working hard to ensure that crime against tourists is kept at one of the lowest levels in Europe. However, when incidents do occur, it is vital to look after visitors to our country and to provide them with practical assistance and emotional support for their own good and to ensure that they go home with an overall positive view of Ireland.”
In 20 years ITAS has assisted over 7,500 cases of crime incidents which involved assisting almost 13,000 tourists. 2013 saw an increase in the number of tourists seeking assistance from the service the majority of whom had been victims of theft. This can range from having handbags stolen to having cars broken into particularly where items were left visible. 
 
The Chairman of ITAS, Mr. Martin Holohan said “ITAS is the only dedicated service in Europe offering specialist assistance to tourist victims of crime. Over the past 20 years 86% of tourists who received assistance from ITAS continued with their holiday plans. This is an excellent indicator of the positive role the service plays in managing negative experiences. We are very proud of what ITAS has achieved to date”. 
 
ITAS is seen as the benchmark of service delivery which other countries aspire to. The Service has been formally acknowledged internationally. In 2004, Ann Meade, a founding member, was awarded an MBE in recognition of the service ITAS provides to British visitors and in 2008 Bernard Lavelle, Manager and former volunteer was made a Cavaliere in the Order of The Star of Italian Solidarity by the President of Italy for the support which ITAS has provided to its citizens.
 
Lisa Kennedy CEO of ITAS said ‘Experiencing crime in a foreign country can be very traumatic. Tourists might not speak the language, they may be travelling alone and they may be stranded without the means to support themselves. ITAS has the knowledge, experience and contacts to deal with the problems associated with tourist crime’.
 
ITAS statistics show that crimes are most likely to occur when tourists are sightseeing, shopping and generally relaxing in restaurants and cafés. The majority of tourists ITAS assist tend to be female aged between 17-25 years and have been victims in Dublin City Centre between 2-6pm. 
Martin Holohan Chairman of ITAS speaking at the Launch of the ITAS Annual Report and 20th Anniversary of the Service at the Guinness Storehouse.
Lee Kidney, Lee Hotels and Dick Bourke, Former President of the IHF at the Launch of the ITAS Annual Report and 20th Anniversary of the Service at the Guinness Storehouse.
 
Photography: Philip Leonard
 
NOTE TO EDITORS
 
ITAS offers a 7 day nationwide service to tourists in distress with the aid of a team of trained staff and volunteers with multi-lingual skills. Through the assistance of the tourism and other industries ITAS offers a comprehensive service where problems facing the tourist in the aftermath of crime can be addressed, with a view to getting holiday plans back on track. This joint effort enables ITAS to provide tourists who have fallen victim to a crime while in Ireland with standardised quality service.
 
Contact: Lisa Kennedy, Chief Executive - 087-6717821
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