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Jim Higgins MEP hosts consultation on tourism - Friday 19 October, Ennis, Co. Clare

MEP Jim HigginsMEP Jim Higgins at European Parliament Consultative Meeting on Tourism, 19 October 2012, Ennis, Co. Clare
MEP Jim Higgins

Tourist operators and anybody interested in tourism will have an opportunity to influence EU decision making next Friday, 19th October.  Jim Higgins, a member of the Parliament's Task Force on Tourism, is asking tourist operators and the general public to make their views and ideas known on the industry.  The meeting is open to the public and starts at 6 pm in the Old Ground Hotel, Ennis, Co Clare.  To book a place, contact


The EU is developing proposals to develop the tourism industry.

We are looking at:

• Tourism Promotion
• Cross-border tourism
• Access routes
• Tourist visas
• Tourist accommodation
• Extending the tourism season
• Activity, heritage and cultural tourism

and more.

Jim Higgins, Member of the European Parliament representing Clare wants to hear your views and ideas to help guide the EU's final policy decisions that will be presented to the European Parliament's Special Task Force on tourism before end 2012.  Join Jim Higgins and a team of expert speakers from the industry and make sure your views and ideas are taken into account in setting EU policy for this vital industry at:

The Old Ground Hotel, Ennis
Friday, 19th October  @ 6 pm

Reserve your place at 01-6057900 or email




Tourism is now, for the first time, explicitly mentioned in the EU Treaties and 60 local people took part in a consultative meeting as to how to maximize its potential and how local and national tourism objectives can best be promoted within this new context. TD Pat Breen and several Clare County Councillors also participated in the discussion.

The meeting was chaired by MEP Jim Higgins, who also made some introductory remarks on the great importance of tourism as an economic sector and on the work being done on this subject within the European Parliament and, in particular in its Committee on Transport and Tourism.

The meeting was addressed by 5 experts on different aspects of tourism development:

  • Aidan Pender, Director of Strategic Development at Failte Ireland,
  • Michael Vaughan, owner manager of Vaughan Lodge in Lahinch and also President of the Irish Hotel Federation,
  • Ray Keaney, course director of the BA Honours Degree in International Hospitality and Tourism Management at IT Tallaght,
  • Flan Garvey, President of Clare Tourism Council, and
  • Dr Pat Daly, Tourism Division Manager at Shannon Development.

The audience was informed of the significance of the new EU competence for tourism in the Lisbon Treaty, the proposed direct budget line for tourism in the 2013-2020 longer-term EU budget (although the direct moneys proposed remained small compared to other EU budget lines), the new initiatives that were being proposed, the new co-decision role for the European Parliament in the adoption of the necessary policies and the new guide that had been prepared on EU funds for tourism.

Among the other issues which were raised in the opening speeches were:

  • the great potential in promoting Ireland's natural, built and cultural heritage and the hospitality of the Irish people;
  • the need for sustainable tourism, the potential benefit of "Slow Tourism" for cyclists and walkers, etc;
  • the great scope of specific initiatives, such as the Wild Atlantic Way initiative (and the need for its route to stick as close to the coast as possible);
  • the need to promote more visits by the Irish diaspora and the key importance of the Gathering in this context;
  • the link between tourism and other policies such as agriculture and fisheries, and the vital role of ERDF, INTERREG, LEADER and rural development funding;
  • the issue of registered versus unregistered tourist accommodation and definitions of what are hotels, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, etc;
  • potential distortions caused by unfair online reviews of accommodation;
  • the need for initiatives to promote tourism out of season (as in the recent Spanish scheme);
  • anticompetitive practices in the sector;
  • the need to promote local products;
  • the importance of greater coordination on visa policies, so that non-EU tourists would be able to travel more freely within the EU once admitted by one country;
  • the key issue of transport and of maintaining proper access to the western regions of Ireland, in particular the continuing importance of Shannon Airport;
  • the implications of the forthcoming incorporation of the tourism functions of Shannon Development within the new regional structures of Failte Ireland.

After the opening speeches there followed a lively debate with a considerable number of questions and comments both by practitioners in the tourism sector, and interested members of the public. The many subjects raised included the importance of innovation, and of education and training for those in the tourist sector, and whether the success of the Westway in Mayo could be emulated in Clare or elsewhere.