So when he sounds a warning about the latest manifestation of “rip-off Ireland,” as he did this week, Irish Americans are right to sit up and take note.
Ambassador Kenny politely asked Irish businesses not to fleece Americans visiting the country during golf’s Ryder Cup next month. He pointed out that some golf courses have doubled their green fees for the entire summer, simply because the Ryder Cup is being held in Ireland.
He correctly suggested that this was not the best way to welcome Americans, and it would actively discourage them from returning to Ireland.
Indeed, many hotels and restaurants have decided to put short-term profit first, charging multiples of their normal rates for the period around the golf contest.
For some time now, Irish Americans have voiced their concerns about the relentless upward spiral of prices in hotels and restaurants in Ireland.
It is true that Irish merchants can do little about the current exchange rate of almost $1.30 to the euro, which weakens our purchasing power everywhere in Europe. But it is also a fact that many in the hospitality industry have become accustomed to over-charging, and sometimes providing patchy service.
Irish Americans will always reserve a special place in their hearts for the land of their forbearers, but have a great many other vacation options each year.
Indeed, as evidenced by the latest tourism figures, some have already chosen to reduce the frequency of their visits to Ireland. Tourism from the U.S. has dropped by almost 9 percent since 2000.
Irish hoteliers and restaurateurs should think twice before giving in to greed and short-term thinking.