Tourism Crisis as Visitors down 100,000 a Month. But South Kerry strikes back.
The tourism industry lost a staggering 100,000 visitors each month this year, sparking warnings it will not survive if the fall continues. St Patrick’s Day celebrations failed to reel in the tourists as the numbers arriving in Ireland during March fell by over 3,500 each day. Overseas visitor numbers declined by 18pc in March to 434,200 and are down by a staggering 200,000, or 32pc, on 2008 figures.
The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveal 317,000 fewer visitors came to our shores in the first three months of the year, a drop of 23pc on the previous year to 1.084m. Irish people are also making fewer trips abroad, but this fall is far less precipitous. People made 543,100 trips abroad in March, down 4pc since last year, and for the first three months of the year overseas jaunts fell by 7pc to 1.439 million compared to 2009 levels.
Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin said that the level of decrease in incoming visits was worrying but tourism worldwide had been hit by economic difficulties and the British market remained particularly challenging because of exchange rate issues. The CSO figures reveal nearly 200,000 fewer British visitors came to Ireland in the first quarter of the year than in 2009, a drop of 27pc, while there were 122,000, or 25pc, fewer European visitors.
“While the level of decrease is worrying, I understand that outbound travel from Britain to all eurozone destinations was also down in the first months of the year,” Ms Hanafin said. The number of tourists from North America held up quite well, falling by just 3pc for the first three months, while visitors from other long-haul destinations increased by 11pc in the first three months of the year, she added. Fine Gael tourism spokesperson Olivia Mitchell said that March was “supposed to herald an upswing in the number of tourists coming here, with the St Patrick’s Festival forming the centrepiece of the month”, but the reverse had happened. “The industry cannot possibly survive losing 100,000 visitors every month.
“Ms Hanafin talks a good game but action to reverse the trend in Irish tourism has not been forthcoming,” she said. Fianna Fail’s determination to continue with the farcical departure tax was hurting tourism badly, while new facilities such as the Conference Centre, the Aviva Stadium and the Grand Canal Theatre should be promoted, she added.
Tourism Ireland — which is set to spend €12.8m promoting Ireland in Britain this year and is targeting a return to growth by the end of the year — said that the first quarter of 2010 had been extremely difficult due to the recession and volcanic ash crisis. Tourism had also been hit by an 18pc drop in flights to Ireland as airlines cut costs. However, with over 60pc of foreign holidaymakers coming between May and September, “there is still everything to play for”, said Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons.
Source: The Irish Independent
South Kerry Goes Green – New Eco-Certification Scheme
A group of 55 South Kerry tourism businesses have become the first in Ireland to be certified under the Green Tourism Business Scheme. This is the first eco-certification scheme of its kind in Ireland and is designed to help all types of tourism enterprises manage their operations in a more environmentally friendly way.
Why Go Green?
Research shows that initiatives such as the Green Tourism Business Scheme are vital for both the development and the sustainability of tourism in Ireland –
· 90% of overseas visitors cite the beauty of our landscape as the reason they visit Ireland
· International research also shows that environmental considerations are increasingly becoming a factor for tourists
· Research carried out by Fáilte Ireland has identified a strong need from the consumer for an eco-certification scheme for all sectors of the tourism industry
· Over 80% of businesses currently participating in the Green Tourism Business Initiative in the UK are already achieving cost savings. It is anticipated that businesses in South Kerry will benefit in the same way over the coming year.
John Pierse, South Kerry Development Partnership, highlights the benefits to businesses participating in the scheme – “Feedback from tourism businesses participating in this pilot has been overwhelmingly positive, with many businesses already reporting cost savings in their businesses.
As we all know, you can’t manage what you can’t measure, and businesses in this scheme have now been provided with the know-how is to determine where they are spending money on utilities such as energy, water and waste and how they can achieve cost savings in these areas.”
Fiona Buckley, Head of Operations for Fáilte Ireland in the South West congratulated the award recipients stating- “These businesses have taken steps from reducing their energy and water consumption, to improving their waste management and sourcing fresh seasonal produce from local suppliers. All of these measures help ensure that they carefully manage our natural environment, without compromising on the high quality experience that is delivered to visitors.”
Businesses interested in becoming involved in the Green Tourism Business Scheme will have the opportunity to partake in this training this autumn and can contact Mary Stack, Environment Unit, Fáilte Ireland at 01 8847 201 or firstname.lastname@example.org to express interest or get further information. The scheme, which was piloted in South Kerry, included accommodation providers, activity providers, restaurants, bars and outdoor visitor attractions is run by Fáilte Ireland and South Kerry Development Partnership through the INTERREG IVB NWE COLLABOR8 project. A full list of winners can be found on http://www.greentourism.ie