In response to the Tourism Ireland decision to spend €2.5million on the development of the new Tourism Ireland website www.Ireland.com <http://www.Ireland.com> the Irish Internet Association on behalf of its members would like to express its serious disappointment that an agency of the state have preferred to employ the services of a London web development company over an Irish one.
There are a number of points that need to be addressed. Firstly, as a country in a job crisis we should be doing everything in our powers to support jobs locally. On principle as well as in practice, this ethos should be of highest importance for government agencies leading by example. In this specific instance, IIA members were shortlisted for this tender and we know that domestic rates are far more competitive that those reportedly paid. In accepting that price is not the only factor and that technical merit was the other criteria used, it is worth noting that on the subjective yet technical issue of design and user experience, the general view is that there are already some basic user experience shortcomings with this site.
Secondly, we must look at the broader ramifications of this decision. The majority of global technology companies have elected Ireland as their European base given the high quality of talent here. Beyond the specifics of this particular case, the political message that this decision is sending out to the world is counter-productive and anti-jobs. On the one hand, we have the IDA and Government Ministers working to increase foreign direct investment with a strong focus on the technology industry. On the other hand, in this single decision, we have a state agency saying that it is not possible to secure high quality and good value web design and development services here.
Tourism Ireland is responsible for attracting visitors to Ireland. Holiday tourism is important but so too is business and education tourism. They are asking people to visit a vibrant and welcoming country but is it also one that is so insecure about itself, so lacking in faith in its own people that when given the choice they will partner with a foreign company rather than an Irish one? The argument that this spend represents less than 10% of its total budget for the year is reminiscent of boom years when pockets were deep. The measure of value in these straitened times should surely not be that they got it for a small % of a large amount but rather that they got it for the very best possible price and in doing so factored in the multiplier effect of keeping those jobs in Ireland and promoting the world class standards that exist within our country.