A top hotelier has claimed that Ireland has lost the ability to offer tourists a "hundred thousand welcomes" and challenged the government to sort out the tourism industry.
Peter Malone, the man who turned the Jurys group into one of Ireland’s most successful hotel brands, told a Clare conference that the Irish brand is slipping fast.
The government and tourism bodies Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland all got it in the neck from Malone when he addressed a conference on the state of Irish tourism in County Clare.
“We have lost the friendliness that we became famous for,” Malone told delegates to the meeting.
“Staff don’t say please, don’t say thank you. The little touches that I learned all over the years in Jury’s, they’re gone.
“You get into a lift in any hotel, staff won’t even say good morning or good evening to you.
“Go into a shop, go into a post office, go in anywhere, we snarl at people.”
Malone then issued an ominous warning for the Irish hospitality industry as the government looks to tourism to help lead the economy out of recession.
He warned: “Unless we stop the rot soon and improve training and standards in our country, the friendliness will not return. We have a long way to go.
“The prices charged to tourists also need to change. Food in restaurants and bars are at unreal prices. Even a cup of tea or coffee is often $3 or more.
“Take your children out now at your peril as they are charged just as much.”
The former Jurys Hotel chief also called on Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar to merge Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland.
“There is great confusion all over the country in the tourism sector as to who is doing what job and the industry has become frustrated,” he said.
“When we had the one agency, Bord Failte, it was much better. Minister Varadkar is really keen on cutting back on quangos and this is an ideal thing to do now to put everyone back into one tourism body.”
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