Vital role played by Local Authorities in Supporting Tourism
The Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council Councillor Hubert Keaney believes that Local Authorities have a critical role to play in developing and supporting tourism initiatives. ‘This is one area where an inter-agency approach can be very effective. The Irish tourism market is supported by very targeted and active participation by local government and in partnership with a number of government agencies, who work very positively on national, regional and local initiatives. The quality of our product provides an excellent starting point to promote local and regional tourism.’
The Cathaoirleach and Chief Executive Ciarán Hayes attended a national tourism conference entitled ‘Collaborate Locally to Compete Globally’ on 29th and 30th March in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. Supported by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS), the conference heard from a number of key speakers, including Jim Deegan, Professor of Tourism at Limerick University, Raymond Coyle of Tayto Park, Paul Kelly from Fáilte Ireland, David McLoughlin of the Wexford Opera Festival and Simon Kay of Center Parcs. The event highlighted the significant Irish success stories in tourism, share key learnings, and highlight the role of local authorities in facilitating this success.
Chief Executive of Sligo County Council Ciarán Hayes said ‘The Council’s collaboration with a broad range of key stakeholders will underpin the continuing promotion and development of County Sligo as a premier tourism visitor destination. In this year’s budget Sligo County Council has committed €736,000 for Tourism, Arts, Community Grants and Recreational Development, and public and private resources will be harnessed to support our objectives in this area . Another important element of this endeavour is our part ownership of Knock Airport and the strategic alliance we are currently creating with Stewart Airport in New York.’
New tourism products
Between 2011 and 2016, the local government sector leveraged a total capital investment of €170.9million in tourist attractions, with €73.3million of this investment made by local authorities, while the matching €97.6million capital was made by other stakeholders (e.g Fáilte Ireland, DTTAS). This supported 259 attractions and plans are advancing for a further 121 new tourism products. Over 1,400 events and festivals are supported by local authorities every year, contributing to local economies. Much of the support provided by local authorities at events goes unnoticed, but is vital to the success of events; such as project management, clean ups, administrative support, health and safety, all put in place so that people can enjoy their day.
The Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan TD addressed the conference on the day, and speaking ahead of the event, said:
“Ireland is famous across the globe as a destination that is welcoming and vibrant. Perhaps our greatest potential tourism offering over the coming years is where the aspects of People and Place converge at the level of the local community. This conference showcased the collaboration between communities, industry, state agencies and the local authorities that makes it all happen. The Irish tourism offering originates with local people at local level. That’s why this event is so significant, it is the coming together of all local authorities in the country, including those with high profile Irish tourism successes, to share learnings and to see how we can continue to grow and develop our tourism offering in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.”
Joe MacGrath, Chief Executive of Tipperary County Council and Chair of the County and City Management Association (CCMA) recognises that local government is playing a significant role in tourism development of local areas, from the provision of attractions and infrastructure, support for events, mobilising a network of stakeholders, agencies and groups to promote local tourist offerings. “This is an important event for local authorities and the wider tourism sector. No organisation can work in isolation, we rely on our partnerships with other state agencies and private industry to help us provide a modern and positive experience for our visitors”.