Fianna Fáil Councillor, Aengus O’Rourke, has called on Westmeath County Council to put in place a dedicated Westmeath County Tourism Officer before the end of this year.
Cllr O’Rourke said it is time to get really serious about tourism and its potential in Westmeath: “A tourism officer would work to develop and enhance the visitor facilities of the region and to stimulate tourism growth in order to produce economic benefits for the county as a whole,” he said. “They would be employed by Westmeath County Council as the ‘go-to’ person for tourism-related promotion and development in the county.”
Cllr O’Rourke says a dedicated County Tourism Officer could tap into the under-utilised potential of both Athlone and Westmeath and give them the edge ahead of competitors: “The economic potential of tourism to Athlone and Westmeath is commonly under-appreciated,” he said. “Its positive economic impact extends well beyond core hospitality and transportation sectors. Like no other industry, tourism is a very impressive economic engine. It is an engine that is labour-intensive and one that can be enhanced year after year as the ‘product’ matures and expands.
“As part of ‘Ireland’s Ancient East’, we are competing with many other provincial towns for a piece of the tourism pie. We need to be on top of our game, ahead of the rest, competitive, focused on quality, and prepared to give a knock-out welcome to those who visit. We have wonderful business people involved in tourism in Westmeath. I am sure they would all relish the opportunity to work with a dedicated tourism officer in order to attract more visitors and develop our offering. Let’s get this person in place before the end of this year so planning in a meaningful way can begin in time for 2017.”