Since the Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS) was established in 1994 to offer immediate support and assistance to tourists who experience crime, it has dealt with over 7,500 cases of crime incidents which involved assisting almost 13,000 tourists.
Speaking at an event to mark the twentieth anniversary, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohoe said, "For the small percentage of tourists who become victims of crime while visiting Ireland, ITAS provides professional assistance and support. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved with this unique service."
“Ireland remains one of the safest destinations for tourists and the Gardaí are working hard to ensure that crime against tourists is kept at one of the lowest levels in Europe. However, when incidents do occur, it is vital to look after visitors to our country and to provide them with practical assistance and emotional support for their own good and to ensure that they go home with an overall positive view of Ireland.”
However, 2013 did see an increase in the number of tourists seeking assistance from the service, the majority of whom had been victims of theft. This can range from having handbags stolen to having cars broken into, particularly where items were left visible. There were 442 incidents in 2013 involving 812 people, which is the third highest figure ever recorded.
The Chairman of ITAS, Martin Holohan said "ITAS is the only dedicated service in Europe offering specialist assistance to tourist victims of crime. Over the past 20 years 86 per cent of tourists who received assistance from ITAS continued with their holiday plans. This is an excellent indicator of the positive role the service plays in managing negative experiences. We are very proud of what ITAS has achieved to date."
Lisa Kennedy CEO of ITAS said ITAS has "the knowledge, experience and contacts to deal with the problems associated with tourist crime."
ITAS statistics show that crimes are most likely to occur when tourists are sightseeing, shopping and generally relaxing in restaurants and cafés. The majority of tourists ITAS assist tend to be female aged between 17-25 and have been victims in Dublin City Centre between 2-6pm.