THIS week saw the 2015 tourism season hit the ground running as tens of thousands of visitors from abroad came here to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, mainly in Dublin, but also in some of our other cities. Indeed, it was never more attractive for people from outside the euro zone in particular to visit Ireland as our weaker currency makes the exchange rate very attractive, especially for people coming from the United States and the United Kingdom.
Overseas visitors to Ireland spent €3.5 billion in 2014 and it could well be surpassed this year with further growth in visitor numbers predicted. Even during the past winter months, there was a 9% increase in the number of visitors from overseas.
In places such as West Cork, the promotion of the Wild Atlantic Way should continue to attract more tourists – both from within Ireland and overseas – so tourism operators along and close to the route need to pitch their offerings with a view to enticing visitors to stay longer in the area.
The government’s lower 9% VAT rate on tourism-related products and services helped the drive to provide better value for money and make Ireland more competitive as a tourist destination, but it is vital that this is maintained. Now that industry has got the desired uplift, tourism providers should not start to become greedy by raising prices as there has been little or no inflation of costs; greed was the cause of the demise of the Celtic Tiger and we don’t want all the great recovery work to date undone by it.
Tourists, be they from home or abroad, want value for money and this is available all over the euro zone, including at sunnier places than Ireland, so we need to stay on top of our game.