27 April 2009

Stay away from Ireland!

According to a survey, one in five foreign tourists coming to Ireland are dissatisfied with the cost of living here.

New research from Fáilte Ireland (our strangely named national agency for tourism) shows that 22% of tourists view the general cost of living in Ireland as a disadvantage.

This is no surprise to me. In fact, if anything does surprise me in relation to this matter, it is that only 22% of our foreign visitors are dissatisfied with the cost of living in this overpriced rip-off country. Perhaps the rest are too polite or too embarrassed to complain, or maybe too disgusted to say anything to an Irish person doing a survey on tourism.

Almost everything in Ireland is on average twice as expensive as in the other EU countries in Western Europe. And the differences with the newer EU members in Eastern Europe are even larger.
Irish customers - the natives as much as the tourists - are ripped-off systematically by those who control the means of production (as Karl Marx put it). Industrialists as well as traders are growing rich and fat on this small nation, and it has always been that way in Ireland.
When the founding fathers of our autonomous Free State (that later became our independent Republic) began to create our own national structures, they only concentrated on the State and the (Catholic) Church, but left the Economy to those who had always controlled it: the English, the Anglo-Irish ascendency and some wealthy locals who managed to fit into a few niches left by them.

Meanwhile most of our Economy is controlled by foreign interests, predominantly American and British. And those who control the plants, shops, hotels and restaurants are the ones who set the prices. There is no price control in Ireland, and hardly any consumer affairs agency worth the name.

So we pay through the nose, and anyone sentimental or stupid enough to come here as a tourist has to do the same. In fact, some cruel Irish fleece foreigners even more than the locals, on the basis that they don't know the ropes and have no choice but to accept what they are given and charged in a foreign place.

Last year I had to stay for some days in Dublin. When I was looking for suitable accommodation, I was truly shocked by the arrogance and greed most of our capital's hotels displayed. Not only were most of the rooms over-priced, the hotels were actually charging a further increased price for the same rooms on Fridays and Saturdays.

I have been to many countries and many hotels over the span of my life, but never experienced such blatant greed as in Dublin. Anywhere else one gets a fixed price when booking a hotel for a week. Seven days are seven days in any place and country. Only in Dublin could one not book a week in a hotel, because the Fridays and Saturdays were charged separately at a much higher price.

I did eventually find a suitable hotel for a - relatively - acceptable price. It is a family-owned business that also offers an excellent breakfast buffet (included in the room price) and the free use of a fitness centre attached to the hotel. (In all the large hotels which belong to big hotel chains there was nothing extra on offer and all one could get was rip-off and exploitation.) But I did swear to stay away from Dublin in future as much as possible and never to recommend it to my friends.

This year, as we are in economic depression and financial crisis, the Dublin hotels are falling over themselves with special offers. There are radio ads almost every day, with prices as low as € 39 for a room in a top hotel in Dublin. But don't be fooled or trapped by such obvious bait. They still find ways to make people pay more than they should and charge all sorts of things extra that one would have included in the basic price in any decent country.

As it is, I have the misfortune to live here, and thus I have little choice but pay the prices we are charged. But if I were a tourist, Ireland would be the last country on this planet (or perhaps the second-last after the USA) where I would go on holiday.
If you have any common sense and want to avoid being robbed and ripped-off by a greedy hotel and tourist industry, then stay away from Ireland!

The Emerald Islander

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