THE tourism industry in the Mid-West should end its fixation with the dollar and focus instead on the huge European market on its doorstep, according to Ryanair’s deputy chief executive Michael Cawley.
Speaking in Limerick, Mr Cawley set out details of the airline’s offer to practically treble its total traffic at Shannon Airport to one million - as long as they get a “free deal” on charges for all passengers above its current level of 375,000.
And Ryanair would be able to make new destinations in Germany, Italy, the UK and elsewhere work in Shannon and bring in much-needed tourist revenue.
Transatlantic travel was “dying a death at Shannon” and tourism interests who say Americans spend more per capita needed to switch its focus to the much bigger market closer to home.
“They spend when they come here but the problem is only 400,000 will come. There are 6.5 million tourists in Ireland, of which about 400,000 are Americans,” Mr Cawley said.
“What would we get, 50,000 more on another daily flight, maybe? Half the seats could be filled by J1s going out. Where is the biggest market available to us? What are we going to turn on quickly? European travel. Americans will come in the summer but they are not going to come for a weekend.
“And it’s a very unreliable source of business. If the dollar is weak, they won’t travel. If there’s war anywhere outside the US, they won’t travel. They get nervous with a bomb, they won’t travel. The Italians will travel under any circumstances.”
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