Senator Catherine Noone today congratulated the tourism authorities on the recent increase in visitors to Ireland, and also urged them to consider two new measures in order to further stimulate growth in the economy.
Following a debate on tourism having the potential to assist in any economic recovery, Catherine Noone made a statement in which she set forward her ideas for allowing further growth in the economy.
Pointing to 2009 Failte Ireland figures that showed that just under 40% of visitors to Ireland are return visitors, Catherine stated that we should look to maintain this relatively high figure – and even attempt to increase it – by implementing these two relatively cheap measures.
The first, a national network of free wifi internet at popular tourist sites, would encourage visitors to upload photos to Facebook and send them to family at many popular tourist sites across the country, such as the Ring of Kerry and the Rock of Cashel. “The internet itself could be housed at canteens or ticket kiosks of many locations, would be very cheap to implement and could provide a hugely lucrative return”, Ms. Noone stated.
Ms. Noone also suggested that the recent scheme, City of a Thousand Welcomes, which is currently only available in Dublin, be rolled out to as many urban centres as possible. “This scheme has been widely successful. They wanted 1,000 Dubliners to volunteer to meet tourists. In two weeks, they got 2,000. Why can’t we do this across the country?”.
The scheme works by allowing tourists and volunteers to register online. They are then paired off and a meeting is arranged. Bars and hotels provide sponsorship which covers a free pint or coffee for the volunteer and a visitor. According to Catherine Noone “there are many, many hotels and bars who would be interested in getting involved in it – it’s a good initiative to get involved in, and is certain to bring custom and create an invaluable positive first impression”.
Ms. Noone added “We’re known all over the world for our humour and our fun: why not use that? Set up the meetings across the country, and leave our visitors with an impression they won’t forget. Create a connection and bonds that will last a lifetime.”
Ms. Noone concluded that, with these two measures, Ireland could begin to truly harness its potential, as the visitors become brand ambassadors for the country upon leaving Ireland.