Demand for “Dublin only” visits on the increase – Time for this Government to act – BREEN

August 3rd, 2010 - Pat Breen

The findings of the Irish Tourist Industries Council Report, “A Changed World for Irish Tourism – facing up to the challenges of recovery” which was published last week, which reported that the demand for “Dublin only” visits are on the increase should set alarm bells ringing in this Region, Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare. T.D. Pat Breen said today (Friday).

“One of the most startling findings of the ITIC report is the increasing popularity of Dublin as a tourist destination, with demand for “Dublin only” visits holding up better over the past two years than the entire holiday market in to this country. For one in three Americans Dublin is now the only place they visit when they come to Ireland, this Region is losing out and this is a real cause of concern.”

“Give the fact that 90% of holiday’s maker’s travel into this country by air; and that our two Irish Airlines, Ryanair and Aer Lingus carry the majority of those passengers, any reduction in services by either Airline has a huge knock on affect for the entire tourism industry.”

“The growing demand for “Dublin only” visits though is particularly worrying and if any inroads are to be made in reversing this trend, air services through Shannon Airport will play a vital role. On the 1st July last Aer Arann/Aer Lingus launched a number of European routes from Shannon to Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow and Manchester and this is very welcome, however, I have spoken to a number of people in the tourism industry in recent days who tell me that they see very little evidence of any effort being made to market these routes and they are very concerned. These services operated previously from Shannon Airport, they were well supported and popular and when we lost them it was a big body blow to the Region, and we cannot afford to lose them again.”

“The number of tourists visiting from the UK has fallen significantly over the past two years and we are a lot more dependant on repeat visitors, with our share of first time visitors from the UK down to 34% in 2009, from 42% of demand in 2003. If we are to secure a share of this declining market, we must invest in marketing. We have an abundance of tourism related activities in this Region, but, if we are to attract more visitors living in Scotland and the Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol areas of the UK we must make them aware that they can fly direct into this Region through Shannon Airport to enjoy these activities and additional funding must be allocated for marketing promotion in these areas.”

“Over the next number of years Shannon Airport will face huge competition from Dublin especially as T2 is opening up shortly and I believe that there are a number of initiatives which this Government must take if we are to get a greater Regional dispersal of tourists:

· Abolish the €10 tax immediately.
· Provide additional marketing support to sustain current services at Shannon Airport.
· Ensure that the US Pre Clearance facilities at Dublin Airport are not promoted at the expense of Shannon Airport.
· Introduce a new airline incentive scheme to encourage airlines to develop new routes from Shannon Airport.
· Ensure that Shannon Airport retains all-year round transatlantic services.
· Support the Tourism Industry by implementing a programme to restore our cost competitiveness.

This Government’s current policies are failing our Tourism Sector which has suffered a dramatic slump in fortunes in recent times. Action is urgently required to stem this tide of decline. Proposals must be brought forward to stimulate innovation and address the regional distribution imbalance of tourists; otherwise the Tourism Industry in County Clare will continue to play second fiddle to Dublin and the East Coast.”