Those of us who study the impacts of tourism have Valene Smith (1977) to thank for being among the first to ask the questions that we all ask on a regular basis when thinking about our research: What impacts does tourism have on local people? How does tourism potentially commodify cultures, traditions and beliefs? Can a balance be struck between the economic benefits of tourism and its negative impacts? In this article, I apply these classic lines of inquiry to the causes and effects of the recent economic crash in Ireland. I focus on two case studies in particular to illustrate the role that tourism played in creating the dramatic economic boom called the Celtic Tiger of the 1990s and 2000s and its subsequent role in the equally dramatic collapse of the Irish economy since 2007. The tourism industry is a disappointingly perfect microcosm of the widespread corruption, greed, and wild overspending that occurred during the Celtic Tiger era. Still, tourism is so integrated into socioeconomic lives of people in the west of Ireland that it must also play a key role in a recovery from the crisis over the coming years.

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