But Failte Ireland’s head of business tourism Keith McCormack told C&IT he believed the value of the sector would provide protection against cuts to its €3m annual government funding.
"Business tourism has been specifically mentioned and it doesn’t look like there are significant decreases [in funding]," said McCormack. "Although no fine detail has been discussed yet, business tourism is very important strategically for Ireland. All I can be is hopeful at this stage."
He added that he felt "comfortable" that for 2011 Failte Ireland would receive a similar amount to its 2010 support budget, and said other austerity measures such as a reduced minimum wage could boost the meetings and events industry.
"Government’s intent to lower the national wage will impact on the cost base, which may give the industry some additional wriggle room," said McCormack.
Calls for support
However, the Irish Hotels Federation is urging the government to increase its support to Failte Ireland.
IHF chief executive Tim Fenn said: "We’re calling on the government to ensure that levels of marketing activity by tourism bodies are increased in real terms. This must include targeted support for marketing drives to attract corporate conference business to maximise the benefits of the Convention Centre Dublin."
Ovation Global DMC managing director Patrick Delaney said the economic situation meant costs in Ireland had "plummeted".
"Lower costs bode well for the events buyer looking for good value," added Delaney. "It is a very good time for Ireland as a meetings destination."