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Business Briefs McGuigan named new Tourist Board boss

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

Carlow’s Joe Byrne, the Irish Tourist Board’s outgoing executive vice president for North America, spent Monday giving his successor, Monaghan man Jim McGuigan, some tips on how to survive in the Big Apple.

McGuigan himself is a veteran of the tourism and hotel businesses. He has spent 20 years with Bórd Fáilte and was most recently head of the industry marketing services department. Previously, he managed the board’s development department, where he directed a very successful program to encourage investment in Irish tourism. Under the program, there has been "a massive increase in private-sector investment in new tourism products and infrastructure," according to a tourist board statement.

Before joining the tourist board, McGuigan was a senior manager with the Jury’s Hotel Group.

He is a graduate of the Shannon College of Hotel Management and a fellow of the Irish Hotel and Catering Institute.

McGuigan said that to a great extent the rapid growth in the Irish tourism industry in recent years could not have been achieved without the record performance in both tourism numbers and revenues from North America.

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Back at headquarters, Byrne will be responsible for the international marketing of Ireland as a vacation travel destination.

Fears of recession

Believe it or believe it not, they’re talking about that dreaded R word — recession — in Ireland. Yes, in the booming Celtic Tiger economy, there are now fears that it could all come tumbling down if inflation is not brought under control.

Even the country’s top bankers have warned Taoiseach Bertie Ahern against introducing a "giveaway" budget — a tempting action since the opinion polls shows declining support for his government. And workers’ ire is sure to be raised by the government’s stand ruling out pay hikes to compensate for the rising inflation.

Ireland’s central bank, in its fall economic commentary, said there is a serious risk that wages will chase prices upward, leaving the economy vulnerable to recession in the long run. The bank warned that the current 6 percent increase in the cost of living is too high and could damage Irish-owned businesses, especially if they had to pay higher wages. Rising inflation, and the weak euro, also lessens Ireland’s attractiveness as a location for foreign investment.

Despite its warnings, the central bank added that it sees no reason why the economy’s growth should take a downturn. Indeed, the bank forecasts that GNP will grow by more than 8 percent this year and 7 percent next year.

Driving Ireland’s inflation are higher prices for houses, oil and services.

ICCUSA ball

The 2000 American Celtic Ball, sponsored by the Ireland Chamber of Commerce in the U.S., will take place Thursday, Oct. 12, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.

The black tie dinner dance, which celebrates the 12th anniversary of the founding of the Ireland Chamber, this year will honor Thomas J. Moran, president/CEO of Mutual of America; Thomas P. Mulcahy, group chief executive of Allied Irish Bank; Alfred E. Smith IV, managing director of Hunter Specialists, LLC and Chris DeBurgh, the singer and songwriter.

A portion of the receipts from the American Celtic Ball will be donated to the Special Olympics World Games, to be held in Ireland in 2003, the first time the project will take place outside the U.S.

Details, call (212) 843-1715 or Email iccusa@hgmad.com.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Dublin-born John Timoney, commissioner of the city’s police department, certainly has the Irish business community on his side. Timoney and his department were recently presented with a special award, the Heads Up Award, by ICCUSA in recognition of their work during the Republican national convention in Philadelphia.

More than 200 members and guests of ICCUSA, together with the commissioner and six of his top deputy commissioners, attended the presentation ceremony at Vesper Boat Club.

As part of the award, ICCUSA contributed $4,500 to the Police Foundation. The donation will be used to supply the police with items such as bulletproof vests, bicycles and other equipment, and for public safety programs.

Battle in Boston

Patrick Purcell is spreading his wings in Boston. The owner of Herald Media, Inc., which owns the Boston Herald, is now purchasing the Community Newspaper Company, a group of four daily and 88 weekly newspapers in the Boston suburbs. The seller is Fidelity Capital, the new business and venture capital arm of Fidelity Investments.

Purcell will now compete with The Boston Globe, which is owned by The New York Times. In a recent conference call with reporters, Purcell declared, "Let the battle begin."

Purcell is a member of the board of the American Ireland Fund.

Travel tip

From Nov. 1 to April 6, CIE Tours International is offering a seven-night self-drive trip to Ireland, including airfare, from $591 per person from New York, Newark, Boston and Baltimore; $641 from Chicago or $821 from Los Angeles. Details, call a travel agent, (800) CIE-TOUR or log onto www.cietours.com.

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