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On Thursday the 29th of December 2016 the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC) held a press event in Buswells Hotel where they issued the following press release – “Review of 2016 & Outlook for 2017 as Industry Publishes Roadmap for Growth to 2025”. The ITIC is the representative body of the Irish tourist industry. It is an umbrella group comprising the wider tourism and hospitality industry. The ITIC is the voice of Irish tourism and at the end of each calendar year they release relevant figures and predictions pertaining to this sector.

The press release quotes the ITIC chairman, Paul Gallagher’s assertion that 2016 provided a record number of visitors and that a further 20,000 new jobs had been created in the sector. Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, Chief Executive of the ITIC was also quoted, confirming that 2016 performed well and that it is vital to put a plan in place to sustain such growth in this sector.

For example ‘Capacity Crunch’ highlights that a shortage of hotel capacity in Dublin and other urban areas will limit the volume of visitors coming to Ireland and needs to be addressed urgently. This point is further backed up with a quote from the ITIC Chairman, Paul Gallagher concerning hotels being booked out and people not being able to find accommodation.

The release goes on to provide a positive outlook for 2017 and delivers further data by the ITIC. However it warns that growth is not guaranteed, with much work and further strategies needing to be pursued. Throughout the press release it is stated that there is a need for government to do more, enacting pertinent strategies and timely pro-tourism policies.

Brexit is factored into the release, where it is highlighted as a major concern. This in itself is a very current and relevant point which features daily in all areas of the media. Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, Chief Executive of the ITIC is quoted in saying that “A hard Brexit would be damaging to Irish tourism”.

To tie in with the main heading the press release concludes with “A Roadmap for Tourism Growth” which leaves one with a confident and positive outlook for the future in Irish tourism, boasting a €7 billion annual industry by 2025.

This press release received great follow on media coverage. The Irish Examiner ran a story on Thursday, December 29th 2016, titled ‘Irish Tourist Industry Confederation predicts 50,000 new hospitality jobs by 2025.’ This was a very positive story concentrating on substantial job and monetary growth backed up with a quote by Paul Gallagher, Chairman, ITIC; ‘In layman’s terms that is about 50,000 new jobs in hospitality in Ireland and about €7bn in receipts to the exchequer.’

The Irish Times took a different approach to the release and ran the following story on Thursday, December 29th 2016 with the heading ‘Tourism group says terror attacks boosted visits to Ireland’. The Irish Times focused on the terror attacks elsewhere in Europe as having a positive effect on Irish tourism because tourists felt safe coming to Ireland. Again Paul Gallagher, Chairman, ITIC was quoted; “In northern Europe, Ireland has been one of the main beneficiaries of people feeling insecure because it’s very secure here . . . Obviously we would wish for no more attacks and for everywhere to be safe but that’s the environment we live in”.

The key message is clear, our tourism industry is booming, and has the prospect to grow and create substantial revenue and jobs for Ireland, but only if the government realise this potential in time and backs tourism accordingly.

Articles by Lorraine Bolger