A MAJOR tourism strategy for Cork city and county was launched this week, with a target of 525,000 visitors to Cork by 2020.
‘Growing Tourism in Cork - A Collective Strategy’ is the title of the ambitious plan which was unveiled at Cork International Airport by a group of interested agencies.
The five-year plan has been developed by the Cork Tourism Strategy Taskforce and aims to increase domestic and international visitors to Cork by in excess of 500,000 a year.
The knock-on effect to the local economy is a projected boost of €86m to the region. It also hopes to encourage the dispersal of visitors across the entire county and extend the length of the tourism season.
The Taskforce says the strategy is ‘the result of a number of years of targeted market research, including several rounds of stakeholder engagement which have culminated in the delivery of four plans with defined, measurable actions and deliverables.
‘The research findings are supported by an implementation framework to ensure that Cork can reach its tourism potential over the next five years and beyond,’ it added.
The strategy will be delivered through Visit Cork, a newly formed leisure tourism organisation.County Mayor Cllr John Paul O’Shea paid tribute to the chief executives of both Cork County and City Councils for taking the initiative to bring together a core strategy group to lead and develop the plan.
Taskforce chairman Ger O’Mahoney said that the research commissioned during the development of the strategy revealed there was an opportunity for a specific visitor proposition for Cork. ‘Cork is ideally situated at the gateway of Ireland’s key tourism propositions, Ireland’s Ancient East and the Wild Atlantic Way, positively positioning Cork within the leisure tourism market nationally and internationally.’
It is envisaged that Visit Cork will be complementary to existing tourism organisations and will be initially funded by Cork County Council, Cork City Council and Dublin Airport Authority with the subsequent involvement of other private sector and public sector partners, supported by Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland.
Meanwhile, 2015 was a ‘knockout year’ for Irish tourism, according to local Labour TD Michael McCarthy.
According to official figures from the CSO, overseas visitors were up over 1 million (13.7%) in 2015 compared to 2014. There were approximately 8,643,100 visits to Ireland in 2015.
‘The retention of the 9% VAT rate, in particular, was of enormous importance,’ he said,