In the past, the nation was particularly attractive to American visitors, who were drawn to its natural beauty and the serenity of its rural areas. Many rural bed & breakfasts, in particular, were almost totally dependent on travelers from this country.
In recent years, however, the continuing after-effects of the Sept. 11 attacks have led to fewer Americans journeying to overseas destinations, while the weakness of the dollar against the euro has raised the cost of Irish vacations for people from this side of the Atlantic.
Irish society itself has changed dramatically over the past decade or so – and this, too, has impacted upon the nature of the tourism market. Now, visitors are as likely to come to savor the affluent cosmopolitanism of Dublin or other big Irish cities as they are to seek out the wildness of the western seaboard.
It is vital that the people who drive Ireland’s tourism policies adapt to developments and, where possible, turn the changed times to the state’s advantage. Commendations are therefore in order for Failte Ireland, the body charged with promoting Irish tourism.
The organization this week announced that it would place particular emphasis on trying to boost business tourism. Business travel is a lucrative element of the overall market and it has been neglected for much too long.
The statistics quoted by Failte Ireland’s chief executive Shaun Quinn made his case eloquently. Business visitors spend 70 percent more on average than other travelers; business tourism worldwide is worth around $48bn per year; Ireland has a 1 percent share of that global market.
Ireland’s share of the business tourism market is rising. Failte Ireland’s vow to increase the annual number of business tourists by 20 percent is admirable and forward thinking.