Strategic Framework for the Development of Irish Tourism Enterprises

Prepared for the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation by Tansey Webster and Associates

The overall objective of this project is to develop a strategic framework within which commercial tourism enterprises can grow and prosper, and which will optimise tourism’s contribution to the Irish economy, against a background of identified market trends and market potential.
Approach Taken (Terms of Reference)

The Consultants undertook the following tasks:

  • an analytical examination of the forces which shape growth in industry and services internationally;
  • a review of Ireland’s performance as a tourist destination and a comparison of this performance with that of selected other destinations, including Scotland;
  • a review of recent research studies on Irish tourism;
  • a review of Government and EC policies affecting the development of tourism;
  • an assessment of the future growth potential of Irish tourism;
  • identification of the main barriers to tourism growth and the key issues that adversely affect the viability of companies within the industry;
  • identification of a strategic path for the development of commercial tourism enterprises.


Chapter 1 examined the forces that shape internationally successful economies and, within those economies, that determine successful industry and service sectors. Recent research has shown that Ireland’s best opportunities for development into an innovation-led economy lie in agriculture/food and tourism.

Chapter 2 evaluated how Irish tourism has performed relative to the long-term growth in world and European tourism, and determined trends in Ireland’s market share. Ireland’s performance in each of its major source markets is assessed relative to that of selected other destinations. Ireland’s tourism performance during the 1980s was compared with that of Scotland, a major competitor destination.

Chapter 3 summarised the main findings from a number of research reports on the tourist industry in recent years. In particular, the main weaknesses of the Irish tourism product identified in these reports.

Chapter 4 examined the main thrust of Irish tourism policy since 1989, with particular emphasis on the national tourism development strategy outlined in the Operational Programme for Tourism 1989-1993. An evaluation was made of the investment performance of specific programme measures to date. The range of financial incentives available to tourism enterprises in recent years was also examined.

Chapter 5 the future growth potential of Irish tourism was evaluated against the background of recent trends in national competitiveness and the expected economic outlook in Ireland’s major source markets.

Chapter 6 examined the main barriers preventing Irish tourism from realising its full growth potential, including the over-riding issues of seasonality and inadequate profitability of tourism enterprises.

Chapter 7 summarised the consultants’ main conclusions. In this final chapter, a strategic framework for the growth and development of commercial tourism enterprises was outlined.
The conclusions of this Report cover the following:

  • Tourism’s role in Ireland’s growth strategy;
  • Tourism’s growth potential;
  • A strategic framework for tourism – objectives;
  • Barriers to growth, including seasonality, low profitability and access;
  • Long term and short term strategies.


This report helped to influence strategic planning for tourism at Government level. It provided policy makers with a deeper understanding of the economic issues affecting tourism development.

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