WESTPORT is well above the national average as a tourist destination, according to the Chairman of Fáilte Ireland, Mr Redmond O’Donoghue, who said the national tourism body would focus their strategies on ‘key tourism-dominant areas’ - of which Mayo is one.
Delivering an uplifting keynote address at last week’s AGM of Westport Tourism Organisation, Mr O’Donoghue outlined that last year in Ireland, tourism was up seven per cent on 2010. He described this as ‘stopping the bleeding’, and added that further growth is expected in 2012, with Fáilte Ireland targeting Britain ‘big time’ this year in their marketing drives. Another of his key messages was ‘the fun starts here’ which he said was important for attracting Irish people to holiday at home in 2012.
“We need to focus on the positives,” he said. “We have physical infrastructure in roads, tunnels, bridges, theatres, stadiums and a new airport in Dublin which are vital to a twenty-first century economy, and have a profoundly positive effect on tourism. We have the best educated Irish workforce ever, our export markets are thriving, we are creative and all this did not happen overnight.”
However, he also sounded a warning about complacency, saying that Irish competitiveness was eroded during the boom years and while this is being addressed with increased output now, progress must be allowed to continue.
“The Irish tourism industry is fit for purpose,” he said. “Over 180,000 jobs are supported by it and we offer the world’s fastest field sport, the highest sea cliffs in Europe, breathtaking scenery, great sport and facilities like our golf courses, top food, entertainment, festivals and hospitality.”
On Westport specifically, Mr O’Donoghue said it is one of the jewels in the crown of Irish tourism, with local authorities, tourism groups and Fáilte Ireland working together to deliver a ‘great product’.
“Westport is tourist-centric,” he said. “It is a great Irish brand and the area and the town have unique beauty. We are pro-active in developing tourism in the area with The Greenway, Croagh Patrick and ongoing cooperation with over 60 tourism-related businesses in the area exemplifying this. We also work with IWAK to promote new routes and bring passengers into the region, and implement campaigns abroad on your behalf.
”You’ve built your success in this area and now the task is to grow it, nurture and enhance it, and Fáilte Ireland look forward to working with you on this in the years ahead. If we do, the best is yet to come,” he concluded.
Earlier at the meeting, Christy Madigan vacated his position as Chairman of Westport Tourism Organisation. In his final address, Mr Madigan spoke of the positive signs for the season ahead in Westport, after 2011 saw growth in numbers for the first time in several years.
Outlining that there are 38 annual festivals in Westport, and urging positivity for 2012, Christy Madigan thanked his committee, Westport Chamber of Commerce, Gno Maigheo, Westport Town Council, Destination Westport and the local Clergy, for their help during his four year tenure, and for always welcoming people to Westport.
Westport Tourism Organisation was established 25 years ago and is committed to promoting tourism in the Westport area. Marketing, heritage, Westport Tidy Towns and the historical society are among the initiatives they participate in each year, and they print over 50,000 copies of tourist information publications, such as brochures, maps, guides etc for the region. They also operate the automated tourism kiosk at Westport Quay which is very successful.
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