Document Type

Working Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Business and Management.

Publication Details

Paper Commissioned / Prepared for conference - Towards sustainability in the delivery of the National Development Plan 2007–2013, Comhar The National Sustainable Development Partnership


Ireland is promoted a clean, green tourism destination, famous for it’s landscape, environment, natural habitats and biodiversity. However, is this image still realistic and is it an image that can be sustained as Ireland develops post 2006? This question is examined through the course of this paper and relevant tourism policies are drawn on to illustrate this issue further.

Over the past decade, Irish tourism has performed quite well and has made a strong contribution to the national economy[1]. An efficient government sector, a competitive air and maritime transport sector, a strong partnership between public and private sector, significant investment in public and private tourism facilities and an effective international brand image built through coherent overseas marketing campaigns can be considered some of the major factors which contributed to the successful performance of Irish tourism[2]. It is argued that Irish tourism is now, however, at a turning point and should increasingly focus on delivering a quality value for money experience to the international and resident visitor[3].

In its 2003 Report, New Horizons for Irish Tourism: An Agenda for Action, the Tourism Policy Review Group concluded with conviction that Irish tourism is arguably, the most important and successful sector of Irish-owned enterprise since the foundation of the State[4]. The industry possesses the capacity and the capital stock to achieve further growth in the future at a time when many indigenous sectors – particularly farming and traditional manufacturing – face major structural and trading difficulties[5].

All stakeholders in the tourism sector at national, regional and local levels have a role to play in preserving and enhancing the environment that is pivotal to sustaining and developing the tourism industry. Amongst the current tourism mechanisms and policy orientations, the OECD notes that significant governmental efforts have been made to support further sustainable growth in the tourism industry and prolong the good performance registered in the last ten years[6]. Sustainable tourism requires that all stakeholders focus on alleviating the pressures and impacts generated by tourism and that sustainable management policies, practices and schemes be adopted and developed[7]. This paper therefore examines how tourism policy can be strengthened and adequate infrastructure be provided to ensure that further development of tourism can be achieved ensuring economic, environmental and social sustainability.

[1] Conclusion of the National Tourism Policy Review of Ireland, OECD (June 2004) page 1

[2] Conclusion of the National Tourism Policy Review of Ireland, OECD (June 2004) page 1

[3] Conclusion of the National Tourism Policy Review of Ireland, OECD (June 2004) page 1

[4] New Horizons for Irish Tourism: An Agenda for Action (September, 2003) page II

[5] ITIC Submission to NDP 2007-20013 (March 2006) Summary page 1

[6] Conclusion of the National Tourism Policy Review of Ireland, OECD (June 2004) page 1

[7] ‘Ireland’s Environment’, Environmental Protection Agency (2004) page 204



Comhar, The National Sustainable Development Partnership

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