Liam Ó Cuinneagáin from Oideas Gael says today what most people in Co Donegal have always suspected – there is no desire to send tourists here from the Dublin-based mandarins who run the sector.
Writing in today’s Irish Times, the highly-respected Mr Ó Cuinneagáin fumed: “One should not become agitated at the beginning of a new year, but having read the comments by John Healy, chairman of the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation, I found it impossible not to.
“In the article on the 2011 increase in tourism and in reference to the lack of growth in Donegal and the northwest, he is quoted as saying, “So while Dublin is successful in attracting people for short city breaks, unless you have people for 10 days you can’t really include the northwest”.
“Why not? The distance from Dublin to Galway is 200km; Dublin to Cork is 257km; Dublin to Killarney is 302km. The distance from the capital city to Sligo is only 206km and to Donegal town is only 212km.
“Why then should it cause a difficulty for visitors to travel to the Northwest and why should they need at least 10 days?
“The answer is that they don’t! The attitude and perception of senior tourism figures like Mr Healy should not and cannot be accepted by those of us involved in tourism in Donegal and Sligo.
“There was a time, indeed, when the Troubles made the Border visible – thankfully, this is no longer the case. The beauty and cultural riches of the northwest must be presented to the short-stay visitor to Dublin so that they can be coaxed to return and travel further afield.”
And he added pointedly: “Donegal is only up the road!”
The criticism comes as those fighting for more support for the west and north west accuse Government agencies of deliberately supporting Dublin and the south via the state-owned airports (Dublin, Cork and Shannon).
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