BaileNuachtCartlann Aitheasc agus Preaseisiúintí

Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr. Brian Cowen, T.D., at the Official Relaunch of the Ashling Hotel, Parkgate Street, Dublin 8, on Wednesday, 11 November, 2009 at 7pm


A dhaoine uaisle;

Tá áthas orm a bheith i bhur measc chun Óstán Ashling a oscailt go hoifigiúil. Inniu osclaímid ré nua i saol Kevin agus Mary Flannery agus a bhfoireann. Cuirfidh an Óstán go mór leis an gceantar seo agus le tionscal turasóireachta ár bpríomhchathrach.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

It's a pleasure to join you here this evening to officially reopen the Ashling Hotel.

This is an occasion for great celebration. Kevin and Mary Flannery, who bought the hotel in 1996, have transformed it into a large, modern complex. Looking around, it's clear that their €20 million investment was well spent. And it's very welcome news that up to 50 new full and part-time jobs have been created in the process.

The Ashling Hotel has long been an important landmark in Dublin's hospitality scene, providing easy access to a range of local attractions - and a choice between the peace and quiet of the Phoenix Park and the bustle and bright lights of the city centre. It's always been a favourite with GAA supporters "up for the match" and its proximity to Heuston Station has been a great attraction for business people as well. The new facilities and a longstanding tradition of hospitality make for a winning combination; and I have no doubt that the Ashling is set to enjoy a new lease of life on the banks of the Liffey. I'm delighted to hear that, since reopening its doors in May, the hotel has been attracting visitors from both home and abroad and the reviews to date are very encouraging.

Hotels are hugely important for our country. In a sense, they are Ireland's front desk, as business people and holidaymakers' impressions of our country are strongly influenced by the welcome and service they receive in our hotels. Running a good hotel requires a real team effort. High standards have to apply throughout the operation - and all members of staff have to pull their weight. I have no doubt that the Ashling Hotel team are committed to the highest standards and I would like to take the opportunity this evening to pay tribute to you all for your hard work.

We all know, of course, that 2009 has been a difficult year for tourism, and that your industry is fighting hard for every bit of business available. The State tourism agencies are proactively supporting this and have launched major autumn marketing campaigns in Ireland and overseas.

It is vital that we all work together to achieve the maximum possible return. Tourism is big business and generates up to €6 billion a year for the Irish economy which, in a country the size of ours, is no small achievement.

The major expansion in hotels in recent years undoubtedly presents a challenge for the industry during the current downturn. The combination of weaker markets and increased supply has brought about intense competition for business and figures for this year show that Ireland will welcome fewer visitors. Success for the industry - as was recently highlighted in the report of the Government's Tourism Renewal Group - will depend on successfully managing costs, while at the same time maintaining quality.

The new Ashling is very well positioned to make the best of the current situation. It provides an excellent location and excellent facilities for a city break - happily, people are still taking short breaks and Dublin is a great city to visit. As well as this, the meeting rooms and business facilities in this hotel will be a valuable asset in attracting business tourism, which, according to the latest CSO figures, contributed 1.3 million overseas visitors in 2008. And, of course, the hotel will benefit from Ireland's first - class reputation as a tourist destination. According to the most recent Fáilte Ireland research, 93% of visitors said that their holiday exceeded or matched their expectations, while 98% said they would recommend a holiday in Ireland to family and friends.

Congratulations to Kevin and Mary Flannery, on giving the Ashling Hotel a great makeover. I would like to wish you, together with Alan Moody, the General Manager and his team, all the best for the remainder of this season and in the years ahead.

Thank you for your attention.