The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC) has urged the new government to be ambitious in the targets it sets for tourism, claiming that visitor numbers could be doubled, resulting in the creation of 50,000 new jobs.
According to the ITIC, the national strategy of the last government - People, Place & Policy – set a goal of overseas visitors spending €5 billion by 2025, however the industry body views this to be "too modest".
It believes that tourism's strong recent growth has meant that overseas earnings from tourism have risen already to €4.2 billion per annum, 'a figure that puts the national targets over the next 10 years into sharp perspective'.
Get a FREE Digital Subscription!Enjoy full access to Hospitality Ireland, our weekly email news digest, all website and app content, and every digital issue.
Paul Gallagher, ITIC's Chairman, commented: "CSO figures show us that international tourists now spend €4.2 billion per annum while staying in Ireland; the idea that as a country we should be aiming to hit only €5 billion by 2025 is simply not an appropriately stretching target.
"With less than 2% aggregate annual growth we would reach the stated national target of €5 billion by 2025. As tourism leaders we can’t be satisfied with 2% annual growth for our industry. Imagine the food or pharmaceutical or IT industry accepting a 2% annual growth target? Why should we in tourism be any less ambitious? A figure of 4% annual growth should be eminently achievable for tourism – this would equate to €6.2 billion annual expenditure by overseas visitors and crucially would create an additional 50,000 jobs."
Gallagher believes that it is time that the figures and targets within the national strategy are formally reviewed with the aim of being more ambitious for the tourism industry.
"A new government is being formed and this is an opportunity for an incoming administration to look at things anew," he added.