Tourism providers have been urged not to ‘rip off’ tourists who come to Ireland for The Gathering this year and to ensure they enjoy their experience and are encouraged to return.
The words of warning were issued by Independent councillor Michael Holmes following a presentation from Erris Beo, the region’s tourism provider, which outlined that 32 events for The Gathering were taking place in Erris.
Rina Garrett of Erris Beo told last week’s meeting of the Belmullet Electoral Area Committee that the number of events for The Gathering was very high and they were encouraging local people to invite relatives and friends living abroad to come to Erris on their holidays.
“We are co-operating with Mayo County Council and have printed postcards with four different images by local photographers. They will be distributed in shops and businesses in the region and they have the list of events on the back. I would encourage people in Erris to send them to their relations and invite them home this year,” she said.
The initiative was welcomed by the local councillors who hoped it will bring long-term gains for tourism in the area. Cllr Michael Holmes said he believed The Gathering will be a success but only if the visitors leave wanting to return.
“There is a lot of negativity about The Gathering but people have always been coming back to Ireland and it is just an extra push this year. I would hope the tourists are treated properly and not ripped off. The important thing is not the x amount of visitors coming in but when they are going out they leave with a good taste in their mouth and want to come back again,” he said.
Ms Garrett also talked on the work being undertaken by Erris Beo in looking to attract more people to the region and they were looking to put packages together to sell on-line. She said they looked at Westport as an example of the industry working together and not in isolation.
Cllr Rose Conway-Walsh praised the work of Erris Beo and said areas like Erris had been forgotten about by Bord Fáilte in the past. She said she was concerned that changes in the Community Employment scheme which restricted how long a person could stay with an organistaion had on Erris Beo.
Ms Garrett agreed that it was a concern for them because it takes time for them to train the person and they will only have them for a year before have to do the same with another person.
Cllr Gerry Coyle wished Erris Beo well into the future and said he would like to see the Greenway extended into Erris through Ballycroy.
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