Anecdotal evidence that tourism in Ballina and the north Mayo area has been buoyant so far this year is supported by new figures just released by Ballina Chamber of Commerce.
According to the chamber, which operates the town’s year-round Tourist Office on Pearse Street with the support of Fáilte Ireland, July has seen a 20 per cent increase in the number of visitors to the office when compared with the same period last year.
June 2013 also showed an increase, up four per cent on June 2012.
“This is a major boost for the area and the chamber is delighted with the figures,” said chamber president, Kevin Connolly.
“Events like the Ballina Salmon Festival and the opening of the Jackie Clarke Museum have all helped to attract more visitors to the region.
“We would expect that August will also see an increase, given the tremendous work done by various organisations to maximise the benefit from this year’s Gathering,” said Mr Connolly.
The chamber singled out the help it receives from the Ballina Tidy Towns committee in maintaining the community-run Tourist Office.
In particular, Ballina Tidy Towns chairman Jim Friel and FÁS supervisor Michael Conlon received special mention, as did Tourist Office staff Josie Munnelly, Siobhan Mitchell, Mags Martin, and Marion Leloup.
These can be viewed in some 70 languages, including many European languages and Chinese.
The new-look websites will maximise the potential to attract visitors to the area. A key component of the online promotion is an impressive video of the region, commissioned by the chamber a few years ago. The video is also available on YouTube.
Eva Dearie, who is Fáilte Ireland client services manager with responsibility for Ballina and North Mayo, said that the Mayo North Tourism Steering Group, chaired by Vincent Roche, has also played an important role in the promotion, marketing, product, business, and destination development of the whole north Mayo area.
She also complimented the Tidy Towns committee, and the work done by Ballina Town Council on Pearse Street and in the development of cycle lanes.
“New and developing businesses in North Mayo are Belleek Castle Tours, Paddle and Pedal and Wild Atlantic Cultural Tours. In addition, Ballina is on the newly announced Wild Atlantic Way which is a 2,500km route along the Atlantic coast of Ireland and the area will benefit from the international focus in terms of marketing and promotions currently under way by Fáilte Ireland,” said Ms Dearie.