The decline in the number of tourists to Ireland, as revealed by the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office, shows there is an “urgent need for action”.
This is the view of Labour president and Galway West TD Michael D Higgins. He said the figure show 858,600 fewer visitors came to Ireland in the first nine months of the year compared to the same period last year.
This represents an annual decline of 15.7 per cent. The annual decline from Britain, Ireland’s largest market, was 456,100, and there was an 18 per cent decline in our second largest market, the European continent, of 336,600 or 17.7 per cent.
“It must be remembered that 2009 was a miserable year for tourism and these dreadful numbers are likely to cost more jobs and businesses,” said Dep Higgins.
The Labour Party published a tourism policy document, Extending The Welcome, earlier this year, which outlined actions that could be implemented to help the industry.
It proposed abolishing travel tax; allowing certain hotels to exit the hotel capital tax relief scheme thereby closing ‘zombie hotels’; reform the tourist visa processing system; and the introduction of legislation to allow for the downward review of rents.
“Too much time has been lost to indecision and inaction,” said Dep Higgins. “Minister Brian Lenihan stated that the impact of the air tax on passenger numbers was being overstated. I strongly disagree. It simply makes no sense for an island nation to discourage travel by adding to the cost of air access.”