A ten year Clare tourism strategy has been approved by local elected representatives.
Deferred by councillors at the July meeting of Clare County Council, the strategy was adopted at the September sitting of the local authority. An implementation structure is to be put in place with further information to be outlined at either the November or December meeting of the Council.
An additional chapter was added to the strategy earlier this year following the outbreak of COVID-19. It focuses on collaboration with Shannon Airport forms and how international visitors can be enticed to the county in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Spreading the benefit of the Cliffs of Moher to the entire county also forms part of the thinking in the plan. Clare’s “unique and varied landscapes” are viewed as a unique selling point plus the ability to accommodate a wide range of holiday makers. Personnel behind its creation are confident the strategy will mark the county as a globally recognised destination.
27 strategic priorities underpin the decade long plan. An emphasis is also placed on four destination experiences in Clare which include, High Powers and High Towers, Adventure and Family Fun, Creativity Vitality and Holistic Landscapes.
Director of Service, Leonard Cleary outlined, “The strategy in its essence is about product and promotion, improving our marketing and partnering with key agencies”. He explained to councillors that the first step was adopting the strategy which would be followed by the addition of resources and later implementation.
Tourism is worth €9m in revenue to the local economy, Head of Tourism Deirdre O’Shea stated. “Prior to COVID-19, tourism supported 12,000 jobs in Clare. The local tourism economy is in deep crisis so a long-term strategy is more important now than ever”. She was confident the plan would allow Clare to become the gateway to the West. “Clare at face value should be and we are one of the best performing tourism counties. We have exceptional heritage, we do have and have had a very forward thinking Council. The tourism industry is our largest indigenous employer”.
O’Shea described the county as “a paradise for adventure”. She added, “We do have a sense of vitality found in our villages and celebrated in our music, poetry and sport”.
West Clare representatives, Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) and Cllr Gabriel Keating (FG) proposed and seconded the adoption of the strategy, “It’s all there in Clare,” Keating remarked. Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) observed that the document was “a long time coming” but acknowledged that Clare was “at the heart” of the Mid-West. “The proof in the pudding is in the eating of it. The success of the staycation period was breathtaking,” Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) commented.
One in nine jobs in Clare are reliant on tourism, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) calculated, “We need things to keep people here and be of interest to them,” he said of efforts to try maintain the attraction to the county. “Clare is the envy of every county in the country,” Cllr Pat Daly (FF) felt, the Ennis representative stressed the role of Shannon Airport in making the strategy a success.
“Tourism will definitely be our bread and butter down the road, this is a wonderful project,” Cllr John Crowe (FG) acknowledged. Social media “will be the main marketing tool” in making the document a success, Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) affirmed, he was confident tourism would continue to grow in the country. Reference to Inis Cealtra in the strategy was welcomed by Cllr Pat Burke (FG).