Confidence in the Irish tourism industry about its prospects for the year ahead is at its highest levels since the current downturn began in 2007, it was revealed at Fáilte Ireland’s annual tourism industry briefing for the South East region held in the Tower Hotel, Waterford.
This optimism is also helped by growth in some overseas markets last year, for the first time since the downturn in 2008, particularly traditional in the US, Germany and France.
However, Fáilte Ireland stressed that targeted changes will need to be effected in our nearest and biggest overseas market – Great Britain – and the national tourism development agency stressed that a radical change in approach to that market would be necessary this year.
Fáilte Ireland’s Chairman, Redmond O’ Donoghue said -“Tourism is, by its very nature, an optimistic industry but this year there are many good reasons to expect a pick-up in overseas visitors. This is essential as historically our tourism sector has had an over-reliance on the home holiday market which is no longer in a position to guarantee increased revenues. The real action is overseas and that means capitalising on further growth from the US, maintaining our allure in Europe and finally fixing what needs to be mended in the GB market.”
“This year in particular, the industry has been given a leg up with ‘The Gathering’ initiative developed by Fáilte Ireland.The local tourism industry needs to put its best foot forward in 2013 and provide those who have come to ‘gather’ with an unparalleled visitor experience and great value which will encourage visitors to recommend the South East as a premier destination and return again and again to the region”.
Mr Gary Breen, Head of Operations for Fáilte Ireland in the South East, explained that a key focus for the region in 2013 will be the further development and promotion of the local culture and heritage product.
Mr Breen stressed that, following a number of transformational capital investment over the last few years, the South East now has the makings of a world class centre for the interpretation and presentation of Ireland’s history.
Mr Breen particularly pointed to progress in the last year, which included The Kilkenny City Tourism Master Plan with a €5.75m Capital Grant; The New Ross Emigrant and Kennedy Experience and Kilkenny Arts Festival
“As is clear from tourism’s 2012 performance, Great Britain remains challenged and the home market is levelling off. Any immediate growth for the industry is best assured by focussing on our traditional key markets in North America and Europe – the markets which show the greatest potential for bringing real recovery to the tourism sector. In the year ahead, we will be working with tourism businesses throughout the region to ensure that we identify the best prospects for growth and that we sell smarter to achieve the growth in overseas visitors which the South East needs,” Mr Breen added.
272 Gathering events have been organised for the region - with Kilkenny on 28, Carlow 36 , Tipperary 69, Waterford 64 and Wexford with 75 out in front.
Among the particular developments in Kilkenny highlighted for 2013 is the Medieval Mile Brand in Kilkenny City; the opening of the new Rothe House Renaissance Experience and The Kennedy 50 Celebrations in New Ross