The Irish tourism sector is calling for the appointment of 1,000 famous “global failte ambassadors” who would promote Ireland as a favored holiday destination.
Tourism to Ireland has been hit hard by the global recession and a sharply decreasing number of foreign visitors.
The worldwide diaspora would play a key part in the tourism revival, as the plan calls for high-profile entertainers, sports stars and business leaders to pitch Ireland as a place not only to visit, but to also conduct business in via conferences and meetings.
Leaders in the field are now banking on the diaspora to help entice tourists to choose Ireland as a destination.
Leaders from Ireland’s tourism sector have just published a report titled “Tourism Opportunity – Driving Economic Renewal,” which contains a number of new strategies aimed at reversing the severe slide in tourists visiting Ireland on an annual basis.
“We feel that we have reached the low point, and we feel that we will be looking at growth this year,” Irish Tourist Industry Confederation leader Eamonn McKeon told “The Irish Times.”
“From here our focus is on getting back as close to the peak we were at in 2007 in the shortest timeframe possible.”
The tourism group was joined by the Irish Hotels Federation, Chambers Ireland and other groups in calling for a new plan to revive the all-important tourism industry.
The report looks at three ways the industry can prosper again, one of which pinpoints a growth in 18% in the sector by 2015.
However, the report stresses that tourism chiefs must aim higher than this; the two other plans outline growth targets of 36% and 45% for the same period of time.
McKeon told the “Times” that the tourism industry lost a huge number of visitors – one-third – over the past three years, with 5.6 million tourists traveling to Ireland last year, a 15% drop from 2009.
The plan contains 10 points that tourism leaders say will revive the industry if they are implemented. They also point out that a healthy tourism sector is vital for Ireland’s overall prospects of emerging from recession.
Irish Hotels Federation President Paul Gallagher said, “We must be bold, and we must set targets well beyond the consensus growth rates forecast for tourism within Europe over the coming years.”
The number of visitors from Britain in particular has sharply declined, as have the numbers from the U.S. and other parts of Europe.