April 2011

The Tourism Recovery Taskforce, Chaired by Vivienne Jupp, held its first meeting recently. The Taskforce was a principal recommendation of the joint ITIC/IHF report in January, Tourism Opportunity – driving economic renewal (www.tourismopportunity.ie).

Its raison d’être is to return Irish tourism to growth by recovering lost market share in Ireland’s top source markets. The Taskforce will work with State agencies to develop effective strategies and marketing programmes to grow demand for Ireland.

Emphasis will be on re-establishing growth and winning market share in the 4 largest markets – Britain, United States, Germany and France. 180,000 people are currently employed in tourism and the Taskforce expects that by 2015 this number can be increased to over 200,000.

The work of the Taskforce will be assisted by 4 Market Partnership Groups, one each in Britain, the United States, Germany and France. Each of these groups will include influential business leaders in the marketplace, including traditional and online tour operators, airlines and ferry companies, digital marketing companies and other commercial operators who can contribute to the local marketing effort.

As always, your comments are most welcome on itic@eircom.net.

> New Chair for ITIC
> Minister Varadkar meets ITIC Council
> Tourism Recovery Taskforce
> Current Market Conditions & Outlook
> Currency Watch
> Access News
> Tourism Trends & News



The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC) has elected John Healy as its new Chairman. John is a Director of Abbey Tours, Ireland’s largest incoming tour operator. He is past President of the Irish Tour Operators Association (ITOA), and has served on many industry committees. A native of Kilkenny, John was educated at St Kieran’s College and is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA). He takes over from Tom Haughey who completed his 2 year term. In an up-beat address to ITIC’s recent AGM, John predicted that the Irish tourism industry is on the turn and that the current year will see growth for the first time since 2007.

“Thankfully”, he said, “I believe we are at the bottom of an unprecedented down-cycle, and we will see a return to growth in the second quarter. Growth will be modest enough, but even modest single digit growth will send a message of confidence to the industry and to the travel markets that Ireland is open for business, and that substantially enhanced value is available across the entire sector.”


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New Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar T.D., met with the Council of ITIC at their AGM on April 14th.The Minister welcomed the formation of the Tourism Recovery Taskforce and said it was encouraging to see the industry take a leadership role in developing plans with the State tourism agencies, which would return tourism close to its peak performance levels of 2007 by 2015.

(Leo Varadkar – Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport)

“As a new Minister in a new Government, it is my intention that tourism will remain a priority,” he said. “The Government sees tourism playing a major role in our economic recovery, and I am pleased to hear from the industry that the tourism tide appears to be starting to turn. We presently offer some of the best product and value available anywhere in Europe and I feel sure we can capitalise on that, given the massive global publicity which the upcoming high-profile visits of Queen Elizabeth and President Obama will present.”

“Jobs are of critical importance to the Government, and I applaud therefore the tourism industry’s plan to retain the existing 180,000 jobs in the industry and to see this grow to over 200,000 by 2015,” the Minister concluded.

Following his address, the Minister engaged in a lively and informative Q&A. All present were impressed with the Minister’s in-depth knowledge of the tourism issues and delighted that the industry has a “champion” in Cabinet who will help the sector along the challenging road to growth and sustainability.


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The Tourism Recovery Taskforce is Chaired by Management Consultant, Vivienne Jupp. Vivienne’s career was with Accenture, where she held operational responsibility at Irish, European and global levels. She spent 12 years as Global Managing Director in various roles. Other members of the Taskforce are:Tony Kelly – Marketing Director, Irish Ferries
David Kelly – Director of Marketing & Sales, Aer Lingus
Paul Gallagher – President, Irish Hotels Federation
Brian McColgan – Chairman, Abbey Tours
Niall Gibbons – Chief Executive, Tourism Ireland
Shaun Quinn – Chief Executive, Fáilte Ireland
Alan Clarke – Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Tourist Board
Scott Field – Online Manager Travel, Google
John McGrillen – Head of Development, Belfast City Council
Hilary McGrady – Chief Executive, National Trust
John Doran – Managing Director, Belfast International Airport
Eamonn McKeon – Chief Executive, ITIC

(Vivienne Jupp, Eamonn McKeon, Minister Leo Varadkar & John Healy)


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The short-term outlook for travel from each market is based on the best current information available, including economic and other factors influencing demand for travel. The summary presentation, depicted in weather symbols, is intended as a guide to marketers. The monthly series is also intended to highlight any change in market outlook from month to month.


Oil prices hit travel
Fuel surcharges are being re-introduced or increased by many airlines while air fares continue to rise. Increasing fuel costs have been biting into airline profits from late last year. Jet fuel prices, at $134 a barrel, are now triple early 2009 levels as supply shocks add to demand pressure. International air travel and freight markets were hit in February by political instability in North Africa and the Middle East. Global airline capacity has also expanded at a higher pace than demand, producing lower load factors thereby limiting scope for cost recovery. While passenger yields have risen since September, the increase is only around one-tenth of the 70% rise in fuel prices.Airline share prices have lost 10% so far this year, as financial markets worry about the exposure to oil.


IMF downgrades growth forecasts
The IMF’s latest forecasts estimated growth for the euro zone to be 1.6% in 2011, with advanced economies worldwide expected to grow by 2.5% and developing countries at close to 6.5%.In a revised growth forecast for Ireland, the International Monetary Fund now estimates growth this year will be 0.5%. This cut is compared to a forecast of 0.9% last November when the European Union and IMF agreed a €67bn bailout. The IMF believes the Irish economy will grow by almost 2% next year.The IMF has also downgraded growth projections for Britain and the US to 1.7% and 3.1% respectively with the British economy recovering to growth of 2.3% in 2012. The US, Germany, Canada and most Scandinavian countries look set for higher than average growth in 2012.

Consumer prices have been rising at an annualised rate of 2.4% in the euro region and 4.4% in the U.K.


British consumer confidence stays low
Consumer confidence stayed at low levels in March as Britons continued to tighten their belts amid worries over economic conditions. GfK NOP’s monthly consumer confidence index remained at 28 in March having edged up marginally from the previous month.The gloomy confidence reading is reflected in the most severe cut in high street spending in 16 years in March. Consumers’ purchasing power is being increasingly squeezed by high and rising inflation in tandem with low increases in income, with concerns over jobs, the economy and fiscal tightening increasingly denting consumer willingness to spend. In addition, the weak housing market and the likelihood of higher interest rates is not good news for consumer spending prospects.
Figures for the three months to January 2011 show that outbound trips by UK residents were down by 7% compared with the equivalent period a year before, with visits to Europe down 8%. Outbound holiday visits were down 7% with a 13% drop in business travel.


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Euro continues to appreciate against the US Dollar
The euro has gained 3.5% in the first three months of this year against a basket of currencies tracked by Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Indexes, the best first quarter performance since the shared currency was introduced in 1999. The euro advanced last week even as Portugal signed up to a bailout.The dollar dropped 1.7% last week to $1.4483 per euro as the European Central Bank boosted its benchmark rate on April 7 to 1.25% from 1%, and signalled more increases may be on the way. Top forecasters say America’s currency will change little through June.However the low dollar is helping the U.S. recover. U.S. exports have risen each month since August to a record $168 billion in January and the trade deficit is 30% smaller than before the financial crisis in August 2008.

  • The pound sterling was worth €1.15 on average for the month of March, marginally down on February, but up 3.6% on a year ago;
  • The US dollar worth €0.71 in March, compared to €0.73 the previous month. The dollar was 4% weaker against the euro compared to this time last year and 8% weaker compared to March 2009. (The dollar dropped to below €0.70 last week).
March 2011
March 2010
March 2009
£1.00 stg =
1.15 euro
1.11 euro
1.09 euro
US $1.00 =
0.71 euro
0.74 euro
0.77 euro

Source: Central Bank – monthly average


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Summer scheduled air services show little change from 2010
Capacity on air services to/from the Republic for summer 2011 shows only marginal change on last year.

  • Cross-channel routes: a 2% decrease in overall capacity on almost 950 flights per week, with a 1% decrease in seats on offer to/from London, while capacity to/from provincial airports is 3% below last summer.
  • European routes: Aggregate capacity is up 2% on last year, with over 900 flights per week. There are more seats on offer to/from Germany, Spain, the Nordics, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and the Baltics, with fewer seats on offer from France and the Czech Republic.
  • Transatlantic routes: More flights on offer with 108 flights per week from 8 US airports, giving a 6% increase in capacity. Capacity from Canada is also up on last summer.


Latest News on Air Services
Announcements within the past few weeks include:American Airlines: Resumed its Chicago-Dublin service on 05 April 2011 having suspended it for the winter. The airline has indicated that it plans to maintain the service for winter 2011/12.
Aer Arann: Will cease to operate the domestic routes from Dublin to Galway, Knock and Sligo after 21 July 2011 with the termination of the Public Service Obligation (PSO) subsidy contracts. Tenders to operate PSO services between Dublin to Carrickfin and to Kerry are expected to be invited shortly.


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Dublin offering great value to British visitors
Dublin is one of the eurozone’s best value cities for the second year running, with prices 12% lower than in 2010, according to the Post Office’s latest City Costs Barometer.“Dublin is a top ten choice again this year with lower prices for every item surveyed. In the past the Irish capital has been criticised for high hotel, meal and drinks prices but this year’s barometer findings make it a bargain break, with prices almost as low as in Eastern Europe” said Post Office head of travel money Sarah Munro.
The barometer compared costs for typical city break purchases including meals, drinks, accommodation, sightseeing and transport in 19 city break destinations found that the top five best value cities were all in Eastern Europe. However, helped by a stronger pound Rome and Berlin are cheaper than last year.


New National Tourist Guide Director
The 2011 directory, published by the Association of Approved Guides of Ireland (AATGI), details its 250 members, listed by qualifications and languages. The Association’s online “Find A Guide” service, on www.aatgi.ie, provides a convenient booking service for the travel trade and consumers.The Association of Approved Tourist Guides (AATGI), the only professional association for tourist guides in Ireland whose members are approved by Fáilte Ireland, was founded in 1977 and is a member of the Federation of European Tourist Guides Associations. As well as ensuring high standards in professional guiding services for the visitor the AATGI’s members also have the benefit of public liability and personal accident insurance.


Survey confirms Dublin a friendly city for Americans
Dublin was voted the second most friendly city behind New York and ahead of Amsterdam in a recent survey by YouGov on behalf of DK Eyewitness Travel Guides.More than a quarter (26%) of those questioned said London, which scored equal fifth place, had the least friendly inhabitants although 29% said Paris inhabitants were worse.Dublin was also ranked amongst the top 10 cities respondents were planning to visit in 2011.
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