Ireland’s new government are making tourism their number one priority according to Michael Ring the new Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport, during his first official foreign state visit this week.
“I can assure you whoever you bring to our country; they won’t go home disappointed,” the minister told the crowd gathered in the New York Athletic Club.
Addressing the audience of travel writers and Irish American leaders the newly appointed Minister said he believed Ireland has a very bright future.
“Tourism is one of our largest indigenous industries and the nearly one million visitors who travel every year from North America are a very important part of that.
“Our two countries share a wonderful relationship and a great affinity built up over generations. We look forward to continuing that bond and continuing to welcome our friends from the US to Ireland,” the minister said.
This week the Irish government announced a cut in the VAT rate from 13.5 percent to 9 percent on all tourism related goods and services.
Ireland’s air tax, introduced by the former government, is also set to be abolished.
The announcements were made as part of new jobs initiative launched this week.
In New York to promote Irish tourism, the minister described his own hometown of Westport as “one of the most beautiful towns in the west of Ireland.”
Alison Metcalfe, Vice President of Marketing with Tourism Ireland, who hosted Wednesday’s event, agreed that there has been no better time for U.S. tourists to visit the Emerald Isle.
“We know so many Americans want to travel to Ireland in the future, now is the time to travel, it has never been better value, it has never been easier to get to, and the warmth of welcome has never been greater,” she told Irish Central.
The head of the Irish global charity Goal, John O’Shea said that the generosity of the Irish people makes it an ideal vacation destination.
“One can travel to various countries around the world and enjoy their beautiful scenery but be positively ignored by the local population,” O’Shea told Irish Central, adding “In Ireland we are all greeted as though we are the local lads.”
Speaking about Ireland’s current downturn, the philanthropist said he believes tourism has a key role to play in the countries recovery.
“At the moment we are suffering seriously from the economic downturn and from a lot of things that were out own fault.
“So one of ways out of that hopefully will be a massive increase in our tourism revenue.”
“There is no better place to launch initiatives than the United States, no better tourists than the American to come to Ireland, so I am hoping that events such as today are going to lead to an explosion of interest in coming to Ireland, because as somebody who has spent most of my life outside Ireland, I remain convinced that there isn’t anywhere as beautiful as Ireland,” O’Shea concluded.