Another hotel topic follows close on the heels of our look at the effect the economic downturn is having on the tourism industry in Ireland, in particular the hotel industry. News of hotel closures in West Dublin today that were less than 18 months old is indicative of the many hotel closures that are anticipated during 2009 as the tourism market contracts. In this article I suggested that product innovation and increased competitiveness should be the order of the day to attract any existing business and to be ready for the next upturn in tourism figures.

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Yesterday, 54 hotels were presented with the Green Hospitality Award for energy efficiency which recognises achievements in becoming more energy efficient while still offering a high quality service. The awards were awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which works within the hotel industry to improve environmental management practices, prevent waste and encourage resource efficiency, while reducing operating costs for the sector. Critically, the hotels involved were able to save between €5,000 and €100,000 by implementing environmentally friendly measures, and by doing so because a more attractive proposition to potential customers.

“Critically they have discovered that environmentally sustainable businesses are also economically sustainable businesses with savings of over €3 million achieved by Green Hospitality Award participants in 2008” – Mr Kitt, Environmental Protection Agency

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With a view on the activities that overseas holiday makers took part in during 2007 it becomes very clear that the environment and environmental issues are very important to Ireland and the people who visit. Equestrian sports, cycling, angling, golf and hill walking were the top activities engaged in by overseas visitors in Ireland, all of which rely on our scenic landscapes, coastline, rivers, lakes and mountains.

“The future of Irish tourism is inextricably linked to the quality of the environment. Our scenic landscapes, coastline, rivers and lakes, and cultural heritage are the bedrock upon which Irish tourism has been built. The economic viability and competitiveness of the Irish tourism industry can only be sustained if the quality of these resources is maintained. Now, more than ever, Ireland’s tourism industry relies on strong and appropriate environmental policies.” – Failte Ireland Environmental Action Plan 2007 – 2009

greenbox

Services such as Greenbox which offer ecotourism packages within Ireland which offer tourists the opportunity to immerse themselves in local culture, heritage and nature will become even more relevant to the Irish tourism market.

“The core of ecotourism is environmental sustainability and ensuring that the environmental impacts of any tourism products are minimised. In addition, it encourages proactive nature conservation and the promotion of local cultural values, while at the same time developing the local economy and working towards the long term viability of the region.” Greenbox Ecotourism Label Factsheet

People care about environmental sustainability, a fact recognised by Fáilte Ireland who set up an Environmental Unit in 2005. The purpose of this Unit is to advocate a high quality physical environment for tourism and to promote good environmental practice throughout the tourism sector. Market segments within the tourism industry, in this case ecotourism, will become even more important during hard economic times as Ireland seeks to attract as many visitors as possible. Ireland has a strong clean green image which is used as the basis for all marketing campaigns and it is important that Ireland lives up to its image going forward.

Related Stories
– Luxury hotels close with loss of 72 jobs
– 54 hotels win energy-efficient awards