Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
nourished by a variety of explicit comparisons
- produced by contemporary examinations of
its advanced systems of technical education and
its rural industry ( Report of the Recess Commit-
tee c. 1906, p. 38). These examinations were
part of an ongoing assessment of Ireland's polit-
ical status and economic prospects as the British
state searched for possible avenues for eco-
nomic modernization and for a related diminu-
tion in political unrest. F.W. Crossley, of the Irish
Tourist , stoked enthusiasm for the tourism sec-
tor's modernization under the auspices of syn-
dicates and trades bodies, endeavouring to
open up the country as groups in continental
Europe had successfully done.
Tourism promoters who referenced Swit-
zerland as a comparator often expressed frustra-
tion with the comparatively poor state of Irish
tourist amenities. They credited Switzerland's
appeal as a tourist destination to the quality of
her tourist services. Proponents of the Irish sec-
tor regularly calculated the income the sector
brought to the small Alpine state. The Irish Tour-
ist (3 [June 1896], p. 30) enumerated 7637
Swiss hotels and pensions, with 82,055 beds,
representing ǧ 20,470,000 in invested capital
with a return of 7.5% (see different data in Irish
Tourist 2 ['New Series', 1895], p. 22). More-
over, these hotels and pensions employed
26,810 servants and paid out ǧ 307,000 to them
in wages. Mitchell G. Mulhall also described the
prosperity that tourism had brought to the coun-
try in his report for the Recess Committee: 'The
magnifi cent natural scenery of the country is
likewise an unfailing source of income' (Mulhall
c. 1906, p. 280).
The extent to which these positive evalua-
tions of amenities lay at the heart of the Irish
image of Switzerland is evident in the Irish
Tourist : 'The Swiss evidently know the value of
advertising', it opined (2 ['New Series', 1895],
p. 22). Tourist-development proponents con-
cluded that Ireland did not lack scenery that
was as breathtaking as the Alpine state, but
rather Switzerland had an enviable reputation
for cleanliness, comfort and effi ciency. They
believed that similar standards could be
achieved in Ireland, under the aegis of bodies
such as the Irish Hotel and Restaurant Propri-
etors' Association, founded as the Irish Hotel
Proprietors' Association in 1890 (Wilson, 1900-
1901, p. 59).
Unlike both the 'Irish Rhine' and 'Norway
in Ireland', which found their way into the popu-
lar tourist lexicon, and which were promoted in
guidebooks and on railway posters, compari-
sons with Switzerland were usually generated
and discussed within tourist-development cir-
cles, and were part of wider discussions of Ire-
land's path to 'improvement' in which the
Alpine country set high benchmarks for cleanli-
ness and comfort. The focus of such discussions
was the quality of Irish hotels, which tourism
promoters such as F.W. Crossley hoped to ele-
vate to the highest Swiss standard. 'The trend of
opinion amongst even the most fair-minded of
'sympathetic Saxons', the Irish Tourist intoned
in 1896, 'points to the fact that the 'hotelling' in
most parts of Ireland is now sadly lacking in
both quantity and quality' (3 ['New Series'],
p. 29). Redressing this image, and the lax 'tourist
culture' which underlay it, became a cornerstone
of campaigns within the tourist-development
To Irish observers, the popularity of Swit-
zerland as a tourist-destination rested on the
successful projection of a 'national tourist image'
not only linked to positive appraisals of her
majestic mountains, but also to her comfortable
trains, and above all her clean accommodation
and solicitous hotel staff. Lord Houghton (1895,
p. 498) wrote that he hoped Irish hotels would
soon approach 'the best Swiss or Scottish Stan-
dard'. If descriptions of the comfort and cleanli-
ness of Irish hotels referred to the elusive Swiss
standard, it was usually to underscore that
accommodations in Ireland had a long way to
go. In a Through Guide , for instance, M.J.B.
Baddeley (1892, p. xii) wrote of Irish hotels'
'laxity of management', 'unpunctuality' and of
'the most suicidal habit' of the Irish hotel-keeper:
'carelessness about those sanitary arrangements
which are now-a-days essential to the success
of any place professing to accommodate tour-
ists'. Indeed, he remarked that the word 'Irish'
in tourist parlance conjured unhappy images;
it: 'will, for English readers, still suffi ciently
express the prevailing character' of hotels in
many towns.
Improvement could, some believed, be
effected by means adopted in Switzerland.
Local tourist committees in Ireland, such as
the Killarney District Tourist Association, were
modelled on similar bodies on the continent
Search WWH ::

Custom Search