Galway cannot be complacent about tourism, warn chiefs

Despite recent upbeat reports regarding an increase in overseas visitors to Ireland in 2011, Fáilte Ireland warned against any complacency in the tourism sector this year, during its annual tourism industry briefing for the Galway region held in the city last week

The national tourism development authority stressed that the hard lessons and good work of the last few years will need to continue and will be central to maintaining a momentum towards a full recovery in tourism. To assist that momentum, Fáilte Ireland will be working hand in glove with local tourism businesses in County Galway.

Fáilte Ireland CEO, Shaun Quinn stressed:“Although 2011 was an encouraging year, there is no room for complacency. We must all remain focussed on doing all we can to maintain a momentum towards recovery. Fáilte Ireland, through a mixture of marketing, supporting tourism businesses and developing attractive tourism destinations, will work closely to boost the full potential of the West region in 2012.”

2012 sees the return of the Volvo Ocean Race to the shores of Galway Bay and following the unrivalled success of the stopover during the 2009/2010 race, Galway was selected for the final stop for the 2011/2012 race providing a great opportunity to showcase the city on a global stage. This time around in addition to a world class festival, the event organisers are also looking at a very strong corporate programme to showcase the best of Irish business.

Fiona Monaghan, Head of Operations for Fáilte Ireland in the West emphasised that festivals and events are hugely important to the tourism development and promotion of Galway this year -

“Visitors don’t just come for the landscape and scenery - they want a quality interactive experience and festivals and events can play a big part this for the West region.

“We will be working closely with local industry here in Galway to ensure that the key festival and events are supported and marketed even in these difficult economic times and that these events generate as much publicity for Galway as possible, not just in Ireland but overseas as well.”

After a very successful 2011 where Galway Arts Festival’s production of Misterman took New York by storm, festival organisers are currently developing a very exciting programme for 2012 which will include the Druid Murphy series of plays. Other big events will include the second Ironman Galway which attracted close to 2,500 participants in its first year and the revamped Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival. This year Clifden celebrates 200 years and a yearlong programme of events has been collated to celebrate the 200th birthday of the town.

In 2012 Fáilte Ireland will focus on developing a tourism development plan for Galway City to exploit the city’s unique waterways offering. Central to this project will be the Fisheries Tower which has great potential to be the hub for a network of walks and trails along the Eglinton Canal, the Corrib River to Lough Corrib and along the shores of Galway Bay

Fáilte Ireland’s 2011 Visitor Attitudes Survey has shown that visitors to Destination West have a strong interest in visiting an offshore island as part of their holiday experience. This year, Fáilte Ireland will work with tourism providers on the islands and on the mainland to look at enhancing the visitor experience and making an island holiday experience more accessible to visitors.

Ms Monaghan also pointed out that despite the economic downturn, the national tourism development authority supported a busy year of tourism activity in 2011 and provided training to hundreds of members of the local industry.

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