23 Jul 19
The Irish Sun
JUST over 9.5million visitors came here last year, Ireland’s best ever by a long shot.
The figure was half a million up on 2017, with around a third coming from Britain, a third from Europe and close to two million visitors from the United States.
Nearly 10million tourists flocked to Ireland in 2018
One third of visitors said they were fairly happy with their visit
Between them they spent over €5billion — another record without which our economy would be goosed.
Ireland is able to call on a diaspora of as many as 100million people, or, if limiting ourselves strictly to Irish nationals living abroad, it’s three million.
It’s a deep pool to tap into before we even start looking at the rest of the planet.
That’s the general rosy picture, courtesy of Failte Ireland’s preliminary figures, of which we can be quite proud.
For those of us living here, 59 per cent took a holiday in Ireland, which is a fairly decent chunk of the population choosing to vacation at home.
So, everything is perfect, right? I don’t know. Overseas visitors spent more than 14million nights in a friend or relative’s house — a quarter of all bed nights.
That’s the price we pay for the large diaspora, but also for our rip-off hotel rates.
The average daily room rate of a Dublin hotel in 2017 was a record €155.75, compared to a European average of €115.54.
Dublin is a city set up for business, rather than people.
With high occupancy rates to boot, it’s no wonder that chains are falling over themselves to open up here.
Just six per cent of foreign visitors spent their money on sightseeing and entertainment.
That’s because it’s expensive.
Maybe tourism chiefs are happy enough with this and in no mood to change anything. And if so, good for them.
But the staycation people are not overjoyed with things either. Less than a fifth of Irish who holiday at home do so for four nights or longer.
So that means most of us do stags and hens, festival weekends or spa breaks rather than the two weeks in a cottage on the Blasket Islands.
A quarter petitioned by Failte Ireland complained about the food being too expensive, and 36 per cent were unhappy with the cost of accommodation.
Just ten per cent said it was cheaper than going abroad, which, when we factor in air travel, says much for the prohibitive costs of staying here.
One-third said they were only fairly satisfied with their experience in 2018 — too many people not exactly blown away by their holiday.
Ireland can be spectacular, but we don’t help our own cause at times.
I’m off to Berlin soon courtesy of very cheap flights and remarkably inexpensive hotels right in the heart of things.
We’re looking at around €250 for two nights and flights for two.
After that, a half-day walking tour of the city is €14, a one-hour boat tour is €15, a beer will set us back €3.50, a cappuccino is €2.68 and a meal for two in a mid-range restaurant is around €40.
Numbeo.com tells me a cappuccino in Dublin is €3.17, a beer €5.50, the meal for two in the mid-range restaurant €60.
[quote]Ireland is unique, but so is everywhere else.[/quote]
We already know about the hotel rooms.
According to TripAdvisor, an early access tour of the Book of Kells and a medieval walking tour of Dublin Castle starts from €44.76.
Taking economies of scale into account (it’s cheaper to run everything in greater numbers), it’s not necessarily comparing like with like.
A big city in the centre of Europe versus one on the edge has certain advantages the other doesn’t.
But holidaymakers don’t actually care about how much it costs to run a hotel, or a tour, or a restaurant. Presuming money is an object, all they care about is the value they get from their holiday.
So if Joe and Ann have a weekend off from the kids, what should they do?
Are they better off staying and paying top prices, or going to Berlin where they can pay buttons for attractions and have a cup of coffee without feeling like they’d been robbed?
Ireland is unique, but so is everywhere else.
Ireland has so much to offer, but so has everywhere else.
A Tourism Ireland report showed that 86 per cent of overseas visitors to this island are either from white collar or managerial professions.
That can be read two ways — either money isn’t too much of an object so everything is fine as it is for our business class guests, or Ireland is too expensive for tourists with ordinary jobs — and that means it’s too expensive for ordinary stay-at-homers too.
Stamping Wild Atlantic Way or Ancient East or Hidden Heartlands on a place and marketing the hell out of it is fine, but holidaymakers deserve value for money.
I know I’ll get value for money in Berlin, because the place runs like clockwork.
We do things a bit differently here in Ireland, and even though the standard is so very high in many areas, I don’t know how much value I’ll get if I stay here.
The truth is when in doubt, people will jump on a plane and get out.
HIGH FLYING BREAST OFFENCE
KLM has said it permits breastfeeding on its flights.
But while the airline is happy to allow mothers nurse their babies, they reserve the right to ask her to cover herself up lest other passengers get offended.
KLM may ask breastfeeding mums to cover up
On what planet and in what reality could anyone be offended by breastfeeding?
KLM’s policy of asking mothers to cover up is a disgrace. Who gives a toss if some sad sack is offended?
If they don’t like it, they can get off the plane.
With or without a parachute.
HIS PLANS BOUTIQUE THE P***
WE know by now that Eoghan Murphy is hopelessly, pathetically and dangerously out of his depth as Housing Minister.
His performance last week on a Newstalk show — where he compared co-living to staying in a boutique hotel — was a perfect microcosm of Murphy’s inadequacies.
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy
Rooms in these kips can be smaller than prison cells under legislation the Housing Minister, top, and the current Government are actually responsible for.
The Fine Gael TD may have admitted his analogy was poor, but this co-living fiasco was his idea, his vision and his responsibility.
He’s a clown, but nobody is laughing.
[boxout headline=”NO CHANGE UNTIL ‘CULTURE CHANGE'” featured-image=”4356997″]THE FAI and Sport Ireland have been busy with more governance reform that you could give free Aviva Stadium tickets to.
To my mind, Sport Ireland was asleep at the wheel for years when it came to John Delaney & Co, so I’ll take the recent tough talk with a pinch of salt.
It defies logic that President Declan Conroy, who failed to spot any of the problems which have since emerged over 14 years,should hang around to bring about the change he suddenly deems so important.
He’s been seen to be doing well recently — but what took him so long?
However, Sports Minister Shane Ross, pictured with Delaney — a man who deserves no credit for any of this — is correct in one area when he insists that everyone who sat on that board should have no part in football’s future.
Michael Garcia authored a buried 2014 report into Fifa.
He said: “True reform doesn’t come from adding rules or creating new committee structures. It comes from changing the culture of the organisation.”
These people cannot change their culture, it’s who they are. There will be no change until every last one of them gets out of Irish football for good.[/boxout]
[boxout headline=”PC MOB LEAVES US BORED IN THE USA” featured-image=”4356522″]IN 2011, we threw a USA-themed party.
We turned the place into a cheesy tribute to all things America.
There were pictures of the great American icons on the wall, American soft rock and Eighties WWE was on a loop and there was a VIP lounge for the special guests.
(It was a really good party, I swear.)
We couldn’t have the same thing today.
First of all, everyone hates America now so it would be deemed racist.
Someone would complain about all the plastic cups used in beer pong, top, as they’re bad for the environment.
Our wall of heroes were mainly white and male, so that would offend someone even before we think of all the paper used.
There were no vegan options on the menu.
And the VIP lounge would be considered discriminatory too.
If someone fell then we’d be sued.
So I’d like to thank everyone in the world who’s taken us to this point — for ruining even the most basic fun.
[boxout headline=”CHAMP OF THE WEEK” featured-image=”4356158″]THE Open championship script called for a home winner, but perhaps not this one.
While Rory McIlroy failed to live up to the star billing, his close pal SHANE LOWRY produced a masterclass in the rain.
And the crowds responded like never before.
[boxout headline=”CHUMP OF THE WEEK” featured-image=”4318359″]
EOGHAN MURPHY gets my vote again, for probably the seventh time.
In an era where chumps are far easier to identify than champs, the Housing Minister has the floor all to himself and this time it’s for his co-living is like being in a boutique hotel meltdown.
CHAMPION SHANE IS AN OPEN BOOK
WHAT’S so special about Shane Lowry?
Other than the natural humility to match the god-given flair — which saw him win The Open in Portrush on Sunday with six shots to spare — not much.
Aside from his courtesy, down to earth demeanour and refusal to forget where he came from, very little.
He’s an everyman who carries his extraordinary talent lightly.
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You see the man from Clara, Co Offaly is a fella we all want to share a pint with, an athlete not chiselled out of rock, a guy dads everywhere would be desperate for their daughters to bring home to meet them.
He’s a man who deserves everything good that comes his way — a champion for all the people.
Long may he reign.