TOURISM INDUSTRY LOOKING TO EUROPE AND US FOR GROWTH - Fáilte Ireland says that the country will likely be looking to continental Europe and North America as our main tourist markets in the future as the British market has stagnated somewhat. Fáilte Ireland's chief executive Shaun Quinn was speaking ahead of a major tourism industry event at the RDS, at which over 600 Irish tourism providers will get the opportunity to meet and perhaps form business links with hundreds of overseas industry operators.
"A number of markets are racing ahead. We expect the best ever year from the US this year," he said. But he said that the industry has lost about 25% of the British market in recent years. ''A number of factors are at play there, including austerity and economic issues there. The British people are not taking leisure trips domestically or overseas. It had accounted over half our business for many years,'' he said.
Shaun Quinn says it appears we have turned the corner in most of the main markets and that was down to a restoration of competitiveness. "We had lost the run of ourselves in the boom times. That's been turned around, helped in the main by the Government's reduction in the VAT rate on the tourist industry."
Mr Quinn said it was too early to tell if we were getting a tourist bounce from the Gathering, but he said two flagship events - New Year's Eve and the St Patrick's celebrations - alone would account for around 10% of the target numbers for this year. He said today's 'Meitheal' event would look at tying down business for 2014. "This is a very important event on the tourism industry calendar. It's been going on for around 35 years now. The mood is fairly upbeat," he concluded.
MORNING BRIEFS - More than 807,000 visitors attended the Titanic Belfast centre during its first year, it has been announced. The attraction overlooking the slipways where the legendary liner was launched attracted tourists from 128 countries, management said.
*** Homeowners are being warned to check the cost of rebuilding their homes as they may well be paying too much insurance. The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland says that the latest house rebuilding cost guide shows that the national average house rebuilding costs now are 24% lower than they were five years ago. The Society said that, as many insurance companies automatically index-link home insurance premiums, homeowners should check to ensure that their rebuilding costs are in line with current figures.
*** A preliminary report has shown that Chinese manufacturing expanded less than expected this month. The preliminary reading of 50.5 for the HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index indicated that the manufacturing sector barely expanded in April. That compares to a score of 51.6 last month.
*** The US Federal Reserve may be in trouble for its attempts at stimulating the American economy. A Chinese woman is trying to sue the Fed after discovering that the real value of the $250 she put in an account seven years ago had shrunk by 30%. She claims the fall is a result of the Fed issuing too much money to try to revive its economy. Her lawyer, who is her son, claims the litigation is being issued in the public good and is aimed at promoting people's awareness of their rights.
*** Film and tv streaming service Netflix reported first quarter results that beat Wall Street expectations sending its share price up 24% in after hours trading to over $216. The service added 2 million new subscribers in the US alone in the first three months bringing its customer base there to near 30 million viewers. $19m in net income was recorded for the quarter.