Tourism and cultural industries face a challenge as the global economy grows and tourism and cultural companies face a rise in costs.
Tourism, which employs about 30 per cent of Ireland’s GDP, is now worth more than €20bn a year, a figure that is expected to rise to around €60bn by 2021.
In recent years, the industry has seen a steep fall in demand from new travellers, who tend to be younger, less educated and less affluent than their older counterparts.
However, the economic downturn has brought with it a boom in tourism and the rise in hotel occupancy.
The Irish Tourism Board (ITB) is working on a new strategy to tackle this challenge.
In an open letter to the Government, the ITB chairman, Brian McCarthy, said the sector faced a “challenging” situation, and said the country needed to be more open about how it manages its assets and its business model.
He also pointed out that the global market was growing and that the industry was growing faster than the economy.
“In recent years tourism has become a key sector in the Irish economy, with an average growth rate of 10 per cent a year,” he said.
“Tourism is growing at a faster rate than the GDP.
Tourism and other cultural industries are facing an unprecedented challenge, with a significant rise in the costs of operating a business, the emergence of new technologies, and the increased complexity of the global tourism market.”
A number of initiatives will be put in place to help mitigate the impact of the financial crisis.
The Government is considering a number of measures, including: a new ‘tourism investment strategy’ to help encourage investment in Ireland’s cultural and tourism industries; a relaxation of some rules on how and where businesses can operate; a requirement for all commercial operators to have a financial capacity to pay taxes; and a plan to make the financial statements of companies public.
The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has been looking at how to support the industry.
The agency will hold a series of public forums on the industry in the coming months.
“Ireland’s tourism industry is a vibrant, growing and competitive industry, and as the Government is aware of the importance of the sector, it is looking to address the challenges presented by the global economic environment,” it said in a statement.
“This is why the Government has announced a new investment strategy to ensure the economic benefits of the tourism sector are sustainable.
We are looking to make it easier for small businesses and small-scale businesses to access financial services, and to encourage the growth of the Irish tourism industry.”
In 2016, there were over 200,000 hotel rooms booked in Ireland, with occupancy rates around 20 per cent.
While tourism is a key part of the economy, the Government’s plans to improve the quality of hotel rooms, improve access to services, encourage visitors to come and explore the country and promote cultural and leisure opportunities are all key aspects of this strategy.
The tourism sector also plays a significant role in the health and well-being of the country.
It employs approximately 11,000 people and employs around 4,000 professionals, making it one of the most heavily taxed sectors of the economic system.
It accounts for about 12 per cent in the economy as a whole, and employs nearly 4 million people.