Contemporary issues in Irish and Global Tourism and Hospitality

On 16-17 June 2009, the School of Hospitality Management and Tourism in DIT hosted the two-day annual conference of Tourism and Hospitality Research in Ireland, which attracted 120 delegates including academics and practitioners in the field. The theme of ‘Contemporary Issues in Irish and Global Tourism and Hospitality’ was addressed in a wide range of papers, including the keynote address which was delivered by world-renowned expert in the field, Professor Michael Hall, University of Canterbury. His thought-provoking contribution was entitled “Sustainable consumption and de-growing tourism and hospitality: ‘future shock’ meets ‘Corrigan knows food’.”

A further highlight of the two-day programme was an insightful round table discussion, chaired by Mr. Alex Gibson from DIT, which considered the statement: ‘The recession creates more opportunities than challenges for the tourism and hospitality sector in Ireland and globally’. Contributors to this discussion included Professor David Airey, University of Surrey; Professor Jim Deegan, University of Limerick; Mr. Bobby Kerr, CEO Insomnia; and Mr. Aidan Pender, Failte Ireland. Mr. Kerr, who is also known to television viewers of RTE as one of the ‘dragons’ on Dragons Den, accepted the difficulties that exist for businesses which need to be very cost-focused and more competitive in the current climate, but he noted that there is also a positive side to developing an enterprise at this time, with lower commercial rents and fewer competitors in the market place. Encouraging those starting out, he said ‘I would prefer to be starting a business now than I would have been five years ago - you have a better chance of survival coming into the market now.”

In his closing address to the Conference, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Mr. Martin Cullen, TD, said “Looking around this room, one realises just what a wealth of tourism expertise is available both in Ireland and internationally. It is very important that we continue to utilise such collective knowledge to develop our tourism sector for the future. Your views and opinions are all important to the continuing development of the industry and to the identification of the new strategies that will bring us through the current recession. A conference such as this provides the opportunity to look at the way we work, how we can innovate and how we may make improvements.” Noting that recessions by their nature do not last, the Minister said:. Consumer confidence will return and when it does we need to be well positioned to take advantage of that opportunity. Already, we have seen some hints at a turnaround. The quicker that market recovers, the better for the Irish tourism industry.”.

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Photo from left Ms. Geraldine Gorham, DIT, Conference Chair,
Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism, Martin Cullen,
Dr. Ziene Mottiar, DIT, Conference Chair,
Dr. Michael Mulvey, Head of Faculty of Tourism and Food.

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