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Tourism Lessons from Abroad; $5 Billion Industry in Ireland

Bay City Goals, Challenges Similar to Those Faced by European Countries

July 9, 2004       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Bagpiper Robert Hanold of Plainfield, Massachusetts, pipes stream of tourists to Clare Island Hotel for traditional Irish "feasta."
 
Poet John O'Donohoe of Dublin, Ireland, enthralls crowd in presentation in Clare Island Community Center.

      Bay County tourism planners may learn valuable lessons from Ireland about prospering in the 21st Century.

      Tourism is a $5 billion industry in Ireland, a nation that is thriving both in technology and in visitor revenues.

      Globalization and the threat of terrorism are increasing demand for recreation nearer home, states Dr. Egon Smeral, Austrian economist, in a recent review of European tourism.

      Although North American and European tourism is not expected to grow as fast as that of Asia, Latin America and Africa, communities that use information networks will achieve bigger market and price-setting power, writes Dr. Smeral in an Irish tourism publication.

      A "competitiveness monitor" used in Ireland ranks destinations according to eight indices: price competitiveness, interaction between residents and visitors, infrastructure, environment, technology, openness, social factors and human resources.

      "The demand for authentic experience, promoting local culture in small towns and villages, may increase while experiencing the natural environment will come back into fashion," writes Dr. Smeral.

      He suggests that communities develop "destination-linked" attractions to extend their value-added element. Future tourism consumers, although older, will be healthier, very experienced and youth-oriented, Dr. Smeral writes.

      A large percentage of tourists are disabled, so accessibility factors cannot be ignored, hewrites.

      A recent European tourism conference featured a presentation on one of the world's newest and most successful "destination attractions," the Eden Project in Cornwall, England. This project transformed a worked-out clay quarry into a huge garden environment telling the story of mankind's dependence on plants. Since 2001, Eden has attracted over 5 million visitors and is now the fifth-ranked attraction in the United Kingdom, according to Tim Smit, executive and co-founder of the project.

      Projects receiving government financial support in Ireland include spas, arts, gardens, craft learning center, mountain path network, walks, marina base, outdoor education center, adventure center, equestrian center, health farm and spa and marine therapy center.

      Pubs are the most significant employer in Ireland, with over a third of the workforce, followed by hotels with 23 percent, restaurants with 18 percent and attractions with 15 percent, according to the Irish Tourism Development Authority.###



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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at carraroe@aol.com)

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