CONCERNS have been expressed over the future of Skibbereen’s Community Tourist Office on North St, after it was confirmed that Fáilte Ireland would no longer be leasing the building, from the beginning of next year.
Cllr Mary Hegarty told The Southern Star that she was very disappointed to hear this and called on Fáilte Ireland to ‘step up to the mark’.
Last year the volunteer-led service dealt with more than 7,000 visitors from 20 countries.
‘While Fáilte Ireland have said they will continue to supply a subvention to Skibbereen & District Chamber of Commerce to run the office, I’m calling on this subvention to be increased,’ said Cllr Hegarty.
‘It’s such a vital service for tourists coming into Skibbereen and it’s so important to have human contact there. What’s more, it’s staffed by so many volunteers who give up their time to promote Skibbereen and the surrounding area.’
Cllr Hegarty added that at a time when Cork County Council is trying to support tourism and festivals in the region, Fáilte Ireland should be contributing more to these tourist offices, considering both Skibbereen and Bantry Community Tourist offices are manned by volunteers.
‘Volunteering can only last so long and a lot of work goes into that, too, and without the likes of Eileen O’Shea in Bantry, the town’s tourist office wouldn’t even be open.’
Mary O’Donovan, business administrator at Skibbereen & District Chamber of Commerce, told The Southern Star that they were only informed last week of Fáilte Ireland’s decision to stop leasing the building – which is owned by Cork County Council – for 2019.
‘Cork County Council haven’t yet received an official confirmation from Fáilte Ireland, so we have written to inform them and councillors about this latest development,’ said Mary.
Fáilte Ireland will continue to provide a subvention to the Chamber to help with the running of the tourist office, but the figure for 2019 has not been confirmed.
However, this is the only source of funding for the office and without it, Skibbereen Chamber will be unable to run the office, which includes the employment of one part-time person from March to October.