Thank you for visiting the website of the National Centre For Tourism Policy Studies(NCTPS).

International tourism grew from 25 million international tourism arrivals in 1950 to 1.5 billion in 2019.  During that time the conduct and operation of tourism and policymaking for the sector changed dramatically. The NCTPS, since its establishment in 1994 has conducted scholarly and pathbreaking research that has evaluated the changing dynamics driving the sector and has undertaken research vital to inform policymaking for tourism in Ireland. You can find more information on project research and publications below.

As the recovery of the tourism sector looks set to be complete in 2024 with international arrivals either meeting or surpassing 2019 levels it is clear that the future operation of the sector will be very different to what has come before. The forces of Climate Change, the seismic impact of Artificial Intelligence(Ai) and Robotics and the evolving nature of the “experience economy” mean that tourism businesses will operate very differently in the years ahead. Moreover, the changing world demography and the shrinking labour pool of workers will have major implications for productivity and profitability in the tourism sector. Of course, policy for tourism will need to change in these circumstances and that is why top quality research is vital to inform policy and where the NCTPS can continue to play an important role.

Throughout our history the NCTPS has maintained strong links with all the industry stakeholders through publications and projects on key issues and presentations at tourism conferences in Ireland and overseas. Following the Global Financial Crisis and the collapse of tourism numbers to Ireland the NCTPS initiated and ran a Tourism Policy Workshop Conference with the firm objective of stimulating debate and inform decision-making to help the sector recover and more detail is provided below. Such engagement is probably more important than ever  as the sector is undergoing massive change.

 Finally, I’d just like to point out the fantastic McAnally Tourism and Travel Collection that the NCTPS managed to help acquire and which is now located in the Special Collections Section of The Glucksman Library at UL. This collection is unique and we are hopeful that it will be the foundations for significant scholarship on Irish Tourism in the years ahead. The collection  offers wonderful content on how tourism has developed in Ireland since the 16th century( over 5000 books, 15000 postcards and countless tourism flyers) and should provide public and private sector stakeholders with content for numerous tourism initiatives for many years to come. I strongly recommend you look at the 8 minute video under the McAnally tab below.

Jim Deegan
Professor of Tourism Policy and 
Director, National Centre for Tourism Policy Studies

About the NCTPS

The National Centre for Tourism Policy Studies (NCTPS) was established as an independent and self-funding research centre at the University of Limerick in 1994. From the outset, the Centre has been dedicated to the tripartite  goals of:

  • The development of an internationally recognised Tourism Library at UL;
  • Increasing scholarship and knowledge on the tourism sector through postgraduate research programmes and
  • Dissemination of the best international and national research on tourism to inform policy debates and decision-making for the tourism industry with a clear focus on economic and environmental sustainability.

The NCTPS is formally linked to the Department of Economics which is one of four departments of the Kemmy Business School at the University Of Limerick. The NCTPS developed and delivers the MA In International Tourism with the Department of Economics. The Programme, launched in 1998 is currently ranked 25th in the Global Rankings of Management Programmes in Tourism by EDUNIVERSAL for 2022/23.


Funding For Activities

As an independent research centre, the NCTPS, under the direction of its Director, Professor Jim Deegan, has raised more than €5million in funding since 1994. This funding to achieve the core objectives of the Centre has come through three sources:

  • Philanthropic Funding;
  • Project Income and
  • Scholarship Funding

From the earliest days of the NCTPS we were fortunate to receive a small philanthropic grant from Tara Consulting( latterly Atlantic Philanthropies (AP)) to establish the Centre and to begin our work. Over a period of time our work expanded and AP was always a supportive partner and up to the winding down of the AP Foundation in 2022 the NCTPS had received more than €2.5 million. The NCTPS has also received Philanthropic funding from Dermot Smurfit and numerous anonymous donations from business people over the years.

Such funding helped to support:

  • UL to have the best dedicated Tourism Library in the Country( A dedicated room in the Glucksman Library at UL);
  • Scholarship support for more than 27 postgraduate students since 1994.

For many years Professor Jim Deegan and colleagues working with the NCTPS have worked on research projects for International  and National Agencies. The income stream from these projects funds scholarships and other activities at the NCTPS.

Research Projects For International Agencies

Internationally commissioned work was undertaken for:

  • The World Bank, The European Commission( DGXX111) and Eurostat, International Development Ireland(IDI)

Such projects inter alia focused on:

  • How Tourism Can Enhance Economic Development in Less Developed Countries;
  • Evaluation of the Tourism Policy/ies
  • The Development of A Pilot Tourism Satellite Account for Ireland in 2004( with colleagues from the Centre for Policy Studies at NUI Cork)

In addition to work for International Agencies the NCTPS has worked extensively on projects for Public and Private Sector Organisations in Ireland.

Research Projects For National Agencies

Over the years the NCTPS has undertaken numerous projects on behalf of the following:

  • CERT ( Formerly the National Training Agency For Tourism and Hospitality), Failte Ireland, The Northern Ireland Tourism Board, Regional Tourism Organisations( before being amalgamated in to Failte Ireland), The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation(ITIC), The Hotels Federation( IHF) and the Marine Institute.

Such projects inter alia focused on:

  • The Image Of The Tourism Industry As An Employer in Ireland;
  • Career Progression of Tourism and Hospitality Management Graduates;
  • Measuring Tourism Expenditure And the Economic Impact of Tourism In The Regions of Ireland;
  • How to Understand, Measure and Foster Innovation in Irish Tourism;
  • How Best Can A Tourism Agency Contribute to Economic Development
  • Understanding How The Adoption Of Technology Can Improve Productivity and Visitor Satisfaction

The nature of many of these projects is that the reports were often confidential but copies may be obtained if required. Please contact

Reflecting the embryonic phase of tourism research in Ireland in the mid 1990s the first phase of tourism research focused on Masters Degrees by dissertation. Significant success was achieved quickly through support from the Irish American Partnership(IAP)

From the year 2000 onwards the NCTPS put a greater focus on using the funds generated to support scholarships for Ph.D students. Students on graduate programmes are formally accepted in to the Graduate Research Centre of the Kemmy Business School. Since that time the NCTPS has graduated 7 students, with all fees, equipment/resources and stipends being fully supported. These dissertations have focused on:

  • The Tourism Image of Ireland in France;
  • Destination Quality Management Systems;
  • Consumer Behaviour of The Senior Market;
  • The Barriers To The Implementation of ICT in The Tourism Industry;
  • Estimating the Contribution of The Conference Market To The Irish Economy;
  • An Investigation of The Diary Method To Estimate Tourism Expenditure
  • An Economic Analysis Of The Coach Sector in Ireland

Currently, the NCTPS has one PhD scholar, Mr Ernesto Batista Sanchez. Ernesto is working on “How A Paradigm Shift In The Tourism Marketplace Will Impact On Visitor Attractions.”. Ernesto is being funded for his PhD by Clare County Council and he is using the Cliffs of Moher as the case study for his work. You can find more information about Ernesto here at

All Ph.D dissertations can be found at the Glucksman Library.


The IAP Programme, initiated with funding from the US in the mid to late 1990s was inter alia aimed at fostering research in disciplines that would be co-sponsored by Irish business. Availing of this funding the NCTPS recruited 8 students over the following years. The students worked on research projects aligned with the focus of the NCTPS priorities and the interests of various business and Community groups in Ireland. The focus of research and the sponsoring agencies were as follows.

  • Aviation Liberalisation and De-Regulation sponsored by Aer Rianta, now the Shannon Airport Authority;
  • The Consumer Behaviour of The Senior Travel Market sponsored by Bord Failte/Failte Ireland;
  • Seasonality in Irish Tourism sponsored by Aer Lingus;
  • Co-operation on Tourism sponsored by The Irish Peace Institute;
  • How Will The Application Of New Technologies Impact on The Tourism Industry sponsored by W3 Services;
  • How to Enhance The Image of Limerick As A Tourism Destination sponsored by The University Club and The Limerick Chamber of Commerce
  • Measuring Project Appraisal In Tourism sponsored by Simpson Xavier

The Cuban Scholarship Scheme For The MA In International Tourism

With the initial support of Tara Consulting the NCTPS initiated a Scholarship Scheme in 2004 for academics in Cuban Universities to study on the MA In International Tourism. The initial funding to cover all travel, tuition costs and living costs in Ireland was targeted to pay for 5 students. With funding generated from the activities of the NCTPS it has been possible to increase the number of graduates of the scheme to 11. Unfortunately, the Covid Pandemic constrained the effort to get funding for more scholarships and the programme was paused in 2020. We are actively seeking support to renew the scheme.

Having passed through rigorous criteria for selection by the Cuban Authorities the potential students were examined by academics from UL before being chosen for a much sought after scholarship. Graduates of the programme returned to Cuban Universities to work for three years after completion of the Programme and have subsequently gained very senior positions ion Cuban Universities and the Tourism Ministry and in tourism businesses working inside and outside of Cuba.

We are delighted to report that one of our Cuban graduates is currently undertaking a Ph.D at the NCTPS. The Ph.D is being funded by Clare County Council and The Kemmy Business School has provided a fee waiver.


Publications from faculty working or visiting the NCTPS has covered numerous topics over the years that reflect the changing dynamics of the industry. The NCTPS contributed seminal work on Ireland’s First Tourism Satellite Account; Evaluated the Career Progression of Tourism and Hospitality Graduates and undertook a major study on the image of the tourism industry as an employer. All of these studies are as relevant to the public policy debate on tourism today as to when they were originally completed. Forward looking research on the use of Smartphone Technology at Visitor Attractions published in 2008 was pathbreaking and many of the recommendations of that report remain to be implemented in Ireland. In tandem with our focus on innovation the current PhD research of Ernesto Batista Sanchez is focused on how visitor attractions can respond to a Paradigm Shift in The Tourism Marketplace. This work is novel in that it is applying big data techniques to wi fi data at the Cliffs of Moher and is being used for visitor management.

Publications for Professor Jim Deegan with colleagues at the NCTPS can be found here:

You can also find a profile and publications of Ernesto Batista Sanchez here:


Visiting Faculty

Throughout our history we have used our funding to attract world renowned tourism scholars to the NCTPS. Two visitors in particular stand out; Professor Stephen Wanhill and Professor Tony Seaton and you can find some of their publications by clicking their names above.



Research Associates Of The NCTPS

Research in tourism spans many disciplines and while a  number of faculty at the Kemmy Business School have published in tourism there has heretofore not been any formal links to the NCTPS. In recent months two colleagues in particular have expressed an interest to begin working on the McAnally Tourism and Travel Collection and to facilitate same we have created the idea of formally recognising “Research Associates.  I am delighted to say that Professor Lisa O’Malley and Dr Maria Lichrou are the first two Research Associates of the NCTPS. We look forward with great anticipation to working with Lisa and Maria. You can found out more about their publications by clicking their names above.




Following the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 and the major contraction of the Irish Economy the Tourism Sector suffered a major collapse of international arrivals. From 7.7 million arrivals in 2007 the numbers had collapsed to 5.9 million by 2010, a loss of 1.8 million arrivals. In order to try and help with the rejuvenation of the sector the NCTPS organised a Policy Workshop which began in 2010 and ran up to 2020 with the outbreak of Covid 19. The objective of the Workshop was to invite the major stakeholders in tourism to a “discussion forum” whereby international and national experts could impart expertise to guide future tourism policy and performance. Detail on the material presented at the 10 Workshops can be found at:

We are currently evaluating the rejuvenation of the annual workshop.

The McAnally Tourism and Travel Collection was assembled over a 30 year period by Ciaran McAnally, a Dublin based solicitor. The collection comprises more than five thousand items, including printed books and manuscripts that go back as far as 1587 and very rare ephemeral items, most of which are 19th and 20th century. A number of years ago Professor Jim Deegan helped raise the funding that allowed the UL Glucksman Library acquire this significant collection. The acquisition was made possible by a very generous donation from Dr Dermot Smurfit. More details on the McAnally can be found here.

The collection is unique in many respects and most importantly the material in the collection covers the 32 Counties of the island.

In the years ahead this priceless collection can significantly enhance our understanding of how the tourism industry developed across Ireland over a long period of history and moreover can allow us to investigate how others saw us and importantly how we wanted others to see us. The collection can be the catalyst for significant scholarship for many years ahead and we are hoping that significant PhD funding can be attracted to support such activity.

The Need To Develop A Catalogue For The McAnally Collection

Now that the collection has been secured under public ownership the next task is to develop a catalogue which will act as a guide to the works in the collection. Such a task will require significant investment to recruit an experienced cataloguer and it is estimated that this work will take two years. Once completed we would hope to begin digitising all the images in the collection. We are currently in the process of seeking Philanthropic/Corporate sponsorship to develop this unique collection.