On Monday the 23rd of March Minister Donohoe launched the new Tourism plan for Ireland entitled "People, Place and Policy – Growing Tourism to 2025". This aims to set out the plans for growth in Tourism over the next ten years.
|And picked a perfect stereotype for the cover photo|
This should have been our line of thinking much earlier than now, it makes sense to try to gain more income from less visitors. This makes our tourism policy much more sustainable and has less negative impact on the native population. Providing greater value for the tourist must be key in this. Getting them off the buses and into the towns is a must. Therefore there must be improvements in the attractions and activities offered, particularly in the more remote parts of the country. By this, I am mostly referring to providing things to do when the weather turns bad. Aside from going to the pub, in most places outside the cities, there is very little to do when the rain comes down. It is possible that, while there will be still be bus tours etc running, we lose revenue spent on outdoor activities when the weather is poor.
|Bring out the BBQ!|
The policy also details and increased emphasis on the role of local communities in Tourism. Again, this is a policy I am in favour of. As the locals know the areas much better than central government would, it makes sense that they should take the lead in highlighting the best of their area to visitors. Interaction with the local population is also a sure way to make sure that visitors enjoy their time in Ireland.
The Wild Atlantic Way will also be an integral part of our Tourism future, as it should be. The drive is a magnificent route with fantastic views. It also draws visitors out of Dublin and will help to spread the benefits of Tourism to more remote parts of the country. However, there is one major drawback. Currently, you cannot rent a car if you are under the age of 25. Whether this is regulated, or just something the car companies are implementing themselves, I am not sure. However, this excludes a significant amount of people from being able to drive along the route and is something that needs to be addressed as it seems nonsensical. Most other countries will allow cars to be rented from at least 23. I could go the the USA now and rent a Ford Mustang for a day, yet I can't rent a Clio here?
The policy also outlines the goal to increase employment in tourism to 250,000 and increase visitor numbers to 10 Million. Both ambitious,yet achievable goals. There are also mentions of the continued role for festivals and events in the sector. While I do acknowledge the importance of these in Tourism, I am wary that we are beginning to see an over-reliance on these. Every town and village seems to be coming up with their own festival for various different things, for the sole purpose of getting in tourists, both domestic and international. At the moment I believe we are at the right level, but much more and it may become too much.
Overall, I must commend Fáilte Ireland and the Minister for taking some positive steps in this new policy. We have the raw materials for an excellent tourism product, and must keep pushing forward with investment and innovation to capitalize on this.
The full policy document can be viewed at http://www.dttas.ie/sites/default/files/publications/tourism/english/people-place-and-policy-growing-tourism-2025/people-place-and-policy-growing-tourism-2025.pdf