Future Economic Growth will not be driven by the Construction and Retail Sectors as in the past

That’s the bold prediction in a new report launched yesterday from the National Competitiveness Council (NCC). Generating export-led growth is the only sustainable strategy to secure long term growth and prosperity.

The NCC report Driving Export Growth: Statement on Sectoral Competitiveness (click here to download the report), identifies the key competitiveness issues facing Ireland’s main existing and emerging export sectors, including tourism, and specifies policy actions required to address them.

The report deals in some detail with tourism, outlining the recent decline in visitor numbers, but pointing out the significant employment provided by the industry, with 75% of the jobs outside of Dublin.

The NCC see good potential future growth areas as, business tourism, eco-tourism, experiential tourism, and new markets, though in the case of the latter it suggests there may be a need to re-orientate the current product offering, and to make tourist visa arrangements more visitor friendly.

Cost competitiveness, the NCC points out, is a key determinant of Ireland’s attractiveness for both overseas and domestic visitors, and persistent cost increases in recent years have eroded this. Labour costs and indirect taxes, including the €10 airport departure tax, have adversely affected Ireland’s performance in this regard.

Other tourism issues highlighted as requiring urgent attention include, excess hotel capacity, access to finance for working capital, enhanced external and internal connectivity, and advanced broadband network.

The report also opines that in order to facilitate the development of a stronger and more cohesive branding of Ireland as a tourism destination for both international and domestic travel, the sector would benefit from a merging of tourism bodies.

It’s encouraging to see tourism’s economic contribution rightly recognised as a key export sector with significant opportunity for future growth.

December 8th 2009

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