*Attendees at the 2023 networking event. Photograph: Eamon Ward

A THIRD of bed nights in Clare are currently contracted to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY).

Both the Clare Tourism Advisory Forum and Visit Clare are issuing a rallying call to the wider tourism sector to attend a networking event in the county next month to discuss the urgent need for increased collaboration and the development of new initiatives to bolster the local sector in light of the unprecedented challenge posed by the reduced accommodation supply in the county.

Tourism interests from across Clare gather at The Inn At Dromoland on March 6th for the annual ‘Tourism Together’ Networking Event 2024, which features a keynote address by travel writer and Irish Independent Travel Editor Pól Ó Conghaile.

With a third of bednights in the county occupied by displaced Ukrainians, refugees and asylum seekers, the event will discuss how Clare can position itself to meet current challenges and attract new business.

Chairperson of the Clare Tourism Advisory Forum, Sean Lally explained, “This event is as much about reimagining our approach to tourism development in the county as it is about identifying current challenges faced by our sector”.

He stated, “Clare’s tourism operators are resilient and have a lengthy track record of adopting a collaborative approach to the development of the local sector. Proactive thinking and the implementation of new initiatives are required now more than ever as we seek to overcome reduced available accommodation by enhancing County Clare’s appeal to the growing domestic visitor market,” he added.

Leonard Cleary, Director of Tourism Development for Clare County Council, said, “Investment in the Clare’s existing tourism infrastructure and cross-sector collaboration are key to addressing current challenges”.

Cleary continued, “2023 saw the transfer of the management of some of Clare’s best known visitor attractions to Clare County Council and the commencement of a comprehensive capital investment programme in key tourist sites across the county. Close collaboration with smaller tourism operators to ensure these investments deliver for the wider sector and local communities is a priority for the Local Authority”.

According to Leonard the networking event “presents Clare tourism operators with a valuable opportunity to explore how Clare can improve its share of the domestic market, embrace the benefits of a truly sustainable approach to tourism, and capitalise on the growing wellness tourism sector as set out in the County Clare Tourism Strategy 2030”.

The ‘Tourism Together’ Networking Event takes place at a time of considerable change within international tourism which is experiencing an increased focus on sustainable tourism development.

Deirdre O’Shea, Head of Tourism with Clare County Council, commented, “Irish tourism is facing challenges that are having an impact on the sector, many of which are beyond our control, but local operators are steadfast in their resolve to innovate and identify new opportunities to develop our overall offering. The forthcoming networking event, which will be facilitated throughout the evening, is aimed at harnessing this collaborative approach to establish a fresh approach to the development and marketing of County Clare’s diverse and quality tourism product.”

Clare’s journey to becoming Ireland’s first certified sustainable destination will be the subject of a presentation by Dr. James Hanrahan and Fiona McKenna of ATU Sligo who will provide a progress update on efforts by the recently established County Clare Destination Green Team to secure Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Destination certification, which is recognised as a global leader in managing standards for sustainable travel and tourism.

Towards the later stage of the evening, Irish Independent Travel Writer Pól Ó Conghaile will moderate a local experts panel and discussion. All attendees will also be provided with detail of the Strategic Marketing Plan and Collateral for promoting the County of Clare for 2024.

Registrations for the ‘Tourism Together’ Networking Event 2024 at 5.00pm on Wednesday, March 6th at The Inn At Dromoland, Newmarket-On-Fergus can be made www.visitclare.ie/tourismtogether.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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