Marketing director Kenny Jacobs believes that it ultimately comes down to accommodation...
Ryanair's chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs has called for Irish tourism to be more ambitious, opining that visitor numbers to the country could potentially be increased by 50% if the right steps are taken.
Speaking at the annual Tourism Policy Workshop in Dromoland Castle, he said Ryanair’s own research had shown potential visitors were not coming to Dublin and Ireland because they couldn’t get a decent hotel at a price they were prepared to pay.
If sufficient accommodation for a reasonable fee was introduced, the visitor numbers could be increased to 12 million people per year. Ryanair estimates that this would require a 25% rise in the number of hotel rooms available here over the next three years.
He rejected a union official's claim that the tourism industry was "maxed out" and said that calls for the abolition of the hospitality sector's special 9% VAT rate to fund public service pay increases was "ludicrous".
Jacobs also called on Ireland to strike "an amazing, never-done-before-deal with Airbnb to address the room shortage in the industry."
While he stated that we have a very good tourism product here, he added that Ireland is the fifth most expensive destination in Europe and that it is "not good enough to sustain people coming here paying €6 for a pint."
For that reason, we don't have a "Premier League" product in Jacobs' mind.
“We have done a great job with the Wild Atlantic Way, but I think it is reaching saturation point now and what is going to be next?
“I think the Ancient East, which is the next product from Tourism Ireland, is going to be a harder sell because the Ancient East in Ireland ... not even Irish people get it."
The workshop also gave the marketing boss the opportunity to endorse Norwegian Airways much-delayed plan to run long haul flights from Cork ("a great idea") and note that it was "appalling" that a mere 2.8 million visitors to Irish shores come from the Continent every year, compared to the 3.4 million Brits.