Reports last week of the fall in Irish hotel prices must surely boost tourism but we wonder if the message is getting out there. During the summer season, we met some foreign visitors who were not aware of the great hotel value now pertaining.

Ireland may be costlier than Europe but it compares well with England and, consequently, more promotion is needed in the main market of the UK. The ease of access with Ryanair, Aer Arann and Aer Lingus makes this country a very attractive prospect for those living in Britain. More packages need to be created to attract visitors in and maintain jobs in the hotel and tourism sector as we face the run up to Christmas.

Already Waterford has done rather well with home visitors, judging by the influx of tourists to the recent Food Fair. More momentum is now needed to maximise the possibilities.

We need more promotion to push Waterford and the South East in the UK as well as in the Dublin and Belfast markets.

Training and development of jobless

One of the key challenges facing the Government is training our large army of unemployed and equipping them with new skills that will help to get them back into the workforce. Speed is of the essence because, according to some experts, if people are out of work for more than two years they sometimes lose interest and the motivation to change career.

Fás may not be in a positiion to cope with this vast number in what is nearly a post industrial age and also at a time when there is a surplus of building skills out there. So what will these people be trained for? This is one of the biggest questions that the Government will have to face in the coming year.

The unemployment figure has rocketed very quickly as firms struggle to pay bills and stay in business. The escape valve of emigration is beginning again to England and North America and this will ease the pressure as in other decades but it still will not remove the problem. Waterford is especially badly hit and needs extra attention.

When will the taskforce that the Mayor asked for be put into action and when will the Tanaiste come here and view for herself the dire situation and the empty factories?