Speech by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, at the Irish Tourism Industry Awards 2015  

24th April, 2015

Good evening everyone, I am delighted to be here this evening to present the inaugural Irish Tourism Industry Awards.


Tonight’s ceremony gives us a chance not only to celebrate and reward excellence but also to showcase and promote Ireland’s most successful and innovative tourism products, services and experiences.



As you will be all too aware, the tourism industry has faced challenging times recently.  However, thanks to the combined efforts of Government and industry, we have managed to turn things around and start to grow tourism.


This Government recognises tourism is a sector vital not only to our economy in general, but also to balanced regional development and sustainable growth.


It creates jobs and generates earnings in communities throughout Ireland – including in areas removed from centres of population and other forms of employment.


It drives growth in our airports, our ports and our hospitality sector.


And it ensures that other industries from retail to recreation get more people through their doors, spending money and generating tax revenues.


That is why we reduced VAT to 9%. That is why we reduced the Air Travel Tax to zero. And that is why we introduced the Visa Waiver Scheme.


I know the industry has also worked hard too – striving to manage costs, innovate and offer an excellent service and top-quality experience to visitors from home and abroad.


Thankfully, our combined efforts are now bearing fruit.  2014 was a great year for Irish tourism – visitor numbers were up, tourists were spending more and tourism operators themselves reported improved performance and prospects.



2015 has got off to a good start and, in terms of the months ahead, I know that the mood is good across the tourism industry, interest in coming to Ireland remains high and there is clearly plenty of business to be won.



My Department and the tourism agencies will be doing our best to help add value to our tourism product, build on our encouraging recent performance and win as much sustainable tourism business for Ireland as possible.


In terms of our offering, there is no doubt that if we are to maintain our competitive position, we must continue to develop Irish tourism in a way that that stands out in a very crowded international marketplace.


That is why Fáilte Ireland has moved towards developing ‘brand propositions’ – large iconic and signature programmes that will stand out internationally and give Ireland a greater ‘wow’ factor overseas.


The three main ones being actively progressed at present are the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East (the new brand proposition for the South, Midlands and East of the country, which I launched last week) and the development of a Dublin brand with a focused marketing campaign.



As we look further to the future, it is important to build on recent momentum to drive further growth.



The new tourism policy statement- People, Place, Policy-– Growing Tourism to 2025”  which was launched last month, sets ambitious targets to aim for – within ten years, we want to have;


  • increased annual revenue from tourism to €5 billion;
  • 250,000 jobs in tourism-related industries;
  • underpinned by 10 million visitors a year.


Ireland as a destination is continuing to improve and become more attractive for overseas visitors.  In addition to our stunning landscapes and warm welcome, the amount of things to see and do have hugely improved over the last number of years.


This has been recognised internationally in publications such as the Rough Guide and the Lonely Planet.  Indeed, they say that Ireland is one of the most attractive tourist destinations on the planet.




And now, these new Irish Tourism Industry Awards provide a great opportunity for us here in Ireland to recognise and reward those working hard across the tourist industry.


The range of awards recognises both innovation and excellence and rewards the best operators in the tourism industry.


Moreover, there will be further, knock-on benefits for tourism throughout Ireland.  Tonight’s winners will, in turn, set the standard for others in the industry and give them a goal to aim for.


Before I present the awards, I just want to stress again my belief that industry and Government collaboration is the key to our on-going success.


Now is not the time to sit back, we must build on this recovery and make Ireland a must-visit destination.  We each have an important role to play and our success will depend on how well we work together.




I believe that success will breed success.  These new Irish Tourism Industry Awards give us the opportunity to come together to champion excellence, reward success and inspire others in the tourism industry to follow suit.


Although we can only have one winner in each category, I congratulate all finalists on your achievements to date and hope this recognition will lead to further promotional opportunities and increased business.


Thank you.