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Clare Tourism Flying High During 2013

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2013-12-20 15:16:16 - The expansion of services from Shannon Airport, the Gathering Ireland initiative, good weather conditions, strong performance of the domestic tourism market, and continued group marketing of County Clare combined to produce a “hugely positive year” for Clare tourism during 2013.

That is according to the Clare Tourism Forum, the group responsible for the tourism marketing and promotion of County Clare.

“Backed up by figures from the Central Statistics Office, it is clear that 2013 has been one of the most positive years for tourism in County Clare since at least 2008 explained Forum Chairperson Donnagh Gregson. She continued: “The Forum’s strategic and collaborative approach to marketing the entire tourism product offering has resulted in a sustained increase in visitor numbers to Clare. Significant efforts have been made at local level, both through the Forum and individually by operators, to promote the County and provide excellent value at our tourist attractions, along with the County’s hotels, holiday homes and B&B’s

Ms. Gregson noted

that the expansion of transatlantic and European services at Shannon Airport has been a major contributory factor to the increase in visitor numbers and suggested that growth within the sector can be maintained during 2014.

She said: “The provision of direct services to French and German destinations in particular is a significant development not only for the Airport but tourism in this region as it will enable operators here to capitalise on the recent growth we have seen in the number of continental tourists visiting the County. Furthermore, the new services will help to sustain existing jobs and create new opportunities for development among tourism operators in the wider region

Ms. Gregson noted that Clare’s profile as an attractive visitor destination had been buoyed by a number of high profile successes for local attractions, namely Ennis being named amongst Ireland’s Top 10 tourism towns by Failte Ireland, the Loop Head Peninsula being named The Best Place to Holiday by The Irish Times, and the shortlisting of Loop Head and the Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark in the World Responsible Tourism Awards.

Monica Meehan, Clare Gathering Coordinator agreed that 2013 has been an exceptionally successful year for tourism providers in County Clare. “There is no doubt but that the Gathering initiative and the variety of festivals and events that took place around the County have paid significant dividends for the sector stated Ms. Meehan.

She continued: “Over 240 events were staged this year. At the beginning of the year it was projected that the Gathering initiative could attract at least 20,000 international visitors to County Clare, injecting up to €10 million into the local economy. With a 10% increase in visitors to the iconic Cliffs of Moher and also to Loop Head Lighthouse and the recorded overseas visitors to funded events, there is no doubt but that this projection has been met if not exceeded

Paul Madden, Managing Director of the Temple Gate Hotel says an overall increase in tourism business was experienced at the Ennis town centre hotel this year.

Mr. Madden explained: “There was a slight increase in Group Tour business during 2013 while the excellent weather conditions contributed to a jump in the number of Irish people holidaying at home “Furthermore he added, “the increase in routes being developed at Shannon Airport and the extremely good value to be found across all accommodation types combined to provide a welcome boost to the local sector. These positive developments were helped by the collaborative approach adopted by tourism interests in the County, most notably through the Clare Tourism Forum, to marketing County Clare

Nuala Mulqueeney, Director of Aillwee Caves & Burren Birds of Prey Centre agreed that group marketing played a key role in the North Clare tourist attraction’s marketing activities during 2013. Ms. Mulqueeney added: “We have seen an increase in tourism numbers overall in 2013 which is testament to the joint effort of local tourism operators to promote the wider tourism offering in Clare, as well as their own businesses and attractions. Without such group marketing people do not discover the extent of variety that can be found in the County

Meanwhile, the Clare Tourism Forum has confirmed that 1,500 employees and 150 businesses in Clare have committed to the ‘Céad Míle Fáilte’ initiative, training for which was undertaken during 2013. With a clear focus on the customer, the initiative is aimed at promoting good customer service in County Clare with the result that County Clare’s reputation in terms of hospitality and quality customer care will be enhanced. The initiative was this week announced on the shortlist for ‘Best Tourism Initiative’ in the 2014 LAMA Community & Council Awards.

Clare Tourism Forum activities during 2013:
- January: More than 2000 people attended the Gathering Clare Festivals & Events Expo, hosted by the Forum.
- April: 68 tourism providers showcased their businesses at the Forum’s Gala Networking Evening.
- June: The Forum promoted the County to over 110,000 people who attended ‘Bloom in the Park’ in the Phoenix Park, Dublin.
- June: The An Post ‘Tour de Burren’ cycling event, which was supported by the Forum, brought over 2,000 cyclists to North Clare.
- August: Members of the Clare Tourism Forum promoted the Banner County to an estimated 150,000 festivalgoers at the annual Milwaukee Irish Fest. The legend of Brian Ború was a central theme of the Forum's promotion ahead of a series of events in Clare next year commemorating the 1000th anniversary of Brian Bors death.
- September: The Forum website, was promoted at the All Ireland Senior and U-21 Hurling Champions Homecoming which was attended by over 30,000 people and broadcast live around the world leading to a 200% increase in Forum website traffic.
- October: The Forum sponsored the ‘Best Tourism Hospitality Award’ at the FBD Clare Business Excellence Awards.
- November: The Forum, in conjunction with Shannon International Airport, rebranded some key areas both land and airside around the airport.
- November: The Forum hosted the final of the ‘Clare Ultimate Golf Challenge the only competition of its kind in Ireland where 400 golfers are afforded the opportunity to play all of the county’s 10 golf courses.
- November: Clare Tourism Forum members participated in a South Africa Sales Mission.

The Clare Tourism Forum's overall expenditure in 2013 of over 200,000 euro was funded by Clare County Council, members subscriptions and activities, fundraising initiatives and a contribution from Fáilte Ireland.

Mark Dunphy

Mark Dunphy
Phone: 00353868534900

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