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  • Carmel Diviney
    Tourist sector counts ?900m loss as visitor numbers drop by 12pc a.. By BRIAN McDONALD Monday March 01 2010 IRELAND S tourism industry is in crisis, having
    Message 1 of 62 , Mar 1, 2010

      Tourist sector counts €900m loss as visitor numbers drop by 12pc

      • By BRIAN McDONALD

      Monday March 01 2010

      IRELAND'S tourism industry is in crisis, having lost one million visitors and €900m in revenue last year.

      Hoteliers are struggling to cope with shrinking earnings and trading conditions that show no sign of improving, according to the Irish Hotels' Federation (IHF).

      The chief executive of the IHF, John Power, confirmed yesterday that the 2009 annual report of the IHF reveals a collapse of 17pc in revenues to €5.2bn -- the lowest level since 2004 -- with the British market, in particular, performing disastrously.

      And the IHF is desperate to ensure Taoiseach Brian Cowen maintains tourism as an integral department of government.

      Mr Cowen is due in Galway this morning to address the federation's annual conference.

      IHF president Matthew Ryan has called on the Taoiseach to keep tourism at the fore of government policy -- otherwise the industry would suffer further collapse, he warned.

      Mr Ryan said: "In whatever departmental structure which emerges, tourism must be the lead economic activity of that department".

      A new survey has separately confirmed that almost 90pc of Irish hoteliers fear for the viability of their business this year.

      Launching the annual report at the IHF annual conference in Galway, Mr Power confirmed that the drop in revenues was principally due to a 12pc decline in overseas visitors' numbers to 6.5 million last year and a corresponding fall-off of €900m in the value of foreign exchange earnings in the sector.

      This was in addition to a drop of 5pc in domestic trips and a subsequent revenue crash of 9pc.

      Mr Power pointed to the British market as the key to the future of Irish tourism. The greatest challenge facing the industry is to identify ways to recover a bigger share of UK visitors, he said.

      "Demand dropped across all markets, but was particularly severe from Britain. The number of British visitors had been running at well in excess of three million visitors per annum over the past 10 years, before falling by 10pc in 2008 and a further 16pc last year."

      Lowest

      The number of British tourists at just over three million last year was the lowest for five years, Mr Power confirmed.

      Irish tourism now depends largely on the home market with 70pc of bed nights coming from the island of Ireland (66pc from the Republic).

      The effects of the decline in overseas visitors were most noticeable in the midwest (down 27pc), west (down 17pc) and north-west (down 15pc). The Dublin region showed a decline in overseas visitors' numbers of just 6pc.

      Mr Power pointed out that the continued weakening of overseas markets and the "serious over-capacity" in hotel bedrooms had created a major challenge for the Irish hotel and guesthouse industry. The decline in occupancy had been exacerbated by a weakening in room rates of about 20pc.

      He acknowledged that, contrary to previous recoveries from downturns in demand for travel, the rebound this time would be gradual, over a period of several years.

      "It is vital that tourism receives the recognition and support it merits, given its scale and overall contribution to the economy," said Mr Power.

      A survey by the IHF has revealed that over 90pc of its members had cut staffing levels over the last 18 months. It showed that almost 70pc of hoteliers expected further staff cuts this year.

      Of those surveyed, 50pc had a negative outlook on the sector, 39pc had a neutral assessment, and 11pc gave a positive view.

      - BRIAN McDONALD

      Irish Independent

       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
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    • Carmel Diviney
      This is the new year of the old Irish calendar, explained archaeologist Sam Moore. The event marks the rebuilding of the sun -- the days get longer from
      Message 62 of 62 , Dec 22, 2010

        "This is the new year of the old Irish calendar," explained archaeologist Sam Moore. "The event marks the rebuilding of the sun -- the days get longer from this point. It is a time of renewal and hope."

         

        Not Samhain.

        Carmel

         

        http://www.independent.ie/national-news/lunar-eclipse-fails-to-set-world-alight-at-newgrange-solstice-2470017.html   nice photo

        Lunar eclipse fails to set world alight at Newgrange solstice

        By Nicola Anderson

        Wednesday December 22 2010

        AMID the dark stillness of the pre-dawn, visitors made the annual and ancient pilgrimage up the ridge in the hope of witnessing a rare celestial event.

        The last time dawn sunlight beamed into the passage grave at Newgrange just as the moon passed out of a full eclipse was 450 years ago -- when Pirate Queen Granuaile first turned her hand to plundering ships.

        The event is not expected to recur for another 200 years but yesterday solstice enthusiasts were hopeful they would get their moment in history and be simultaneously brushed by sunlight and moonbeams within the chamber.

        Just 50 lucky names were drawn from a hat out of the 25,000 who had applied for the privilege of savouring a unique moment of prehistoric winter magic.

        American Danielle Lacava (24), from Pittsburgh, entered the lottery when she visited the nearby passage tomb of Knowth last summer. Learning of her success, she decided it was too good an opportunity to turn down and so travelled back again to Ireland, this time with her brother Chris.

        "We never thought about saying 'forget it' -- this was one of those things you just can't pass up," she said.

        Flying to London, their flight to Dublin was cancelled due to the weather and so the Lacavas took taxi, ferry and train, determined to make it to Newgrange.

        Plenty of others had also come from all around the globe to stand outside the chamber, battling through snow-bound runways and motorways, with visitors from the US, England, Sweden and the Czech Republic, as well as from this country.

        Christa Schunke, a Christian Community priest from Munich in Germany, said she felt content just to be there as the solstice was happening, with the light changing.

        She was fortunate enough to have been in the chamber the previous day and to witness a shaft of light entering. "It was beautiful -- I have never been touched by light in that way before," she said.

        "This is the new year of the old Irish calendar," explained archaeologist Sam Moore. "The event marks the rebuilding of the sun -- the days get longer from this point. It is a time of renewal and hope."

        By 8.30am, most people had gathered around the chamber in the pearly-grey light as a member of the crowd produced a tin-whistle from the pocket of his tweed coat and played as they waited.

        But ominous snow clouds at the crucial spot meant many spectators were shaking their heads regretfully at the likelihood their view would be obstructed.

        "A great pity," said Professor John Browne of Glasgow University, on his first trip to Newgrange for the winter solstice, turning instead to examine the small crowd of "mystics".

        Snowflakes

        At a quarter to nine, the select gathering -- including Culture Minister Mary Hanafin and junior minister Martin Mansergh -- were admitted to the chamber and the waiting began. But the clouds moved closer and within moments snowflakes were falling heavily on the shivering crowd.

        Local man JP Fay said there had been an "energy ceremony" held the night before, at the Hill of Tara.

        "This is not a burial chamber, it's a chamber of life," he said.

        As she emerged from the chamber back into the snow, Ms Hanafin was asked if she would be back next year. "I don't know where I'll be next year," she joked. "Somewhere between teacher and Taoiseach."

        - Nicola Anderson

        Irish Independent

         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
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