WEST Cork councillors were united in calling for the inclusion of both Bantry and Skibbereen tourist offices on the latest Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) information brochure. At a recent meeting of Cork County Council, standing orders were suspended when Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) called for this omission to be highlighted.
Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG) was critical of this move by Fáilte Ireland and she praised the enormous work already being done by Bantry Tourism and Development Association.
‘They’re doing trojan work there and if we didn’t have this office open, tourists would just bypass the town and head straight to Killarney,’ she said.
‘This office is voluntarily manned seven days a week and they had a 14% increase in tourism in the area last year and its omission on the map is totally against what the WAW is about.‘I’m really appalled and it’s totally unacceptable that Fáilte Ireland didn’t put these tourist offices on the map.’
Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said that both Skibbereen and Bantry have been hit by a ‘double whammy’ because, as well as losing funding for their tourist offices, they were also not included in the Wild Atlantic Way roadmap.
‘Tourists need to be directed to towns connected with the WAW and it also makes no sense that Inchydoney Beach isn’t included as one of the Signatory Discovery Points and that was a missed opportunity there,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said it ‘blows my mind’ why the two tourist offices aren’t included on the map.
‘It’s totally unacceptable and even though the towns are on the actual map, the signage is bad,’ he said. ‘Also, Fáilte Ireland won’t put a sign up for the WAW at the Jack Lynch Tunnel entrance or at the Kinsale Road roundabout, despite Kinsale being the starting point for it. This map should be re-printed,’ said Cllr Murphy.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said it was a dreadful oversight by Fáilte Ireland and it needed to be addressed. ‘Tourist offices are the go-to area for tourists and without them tourists would not be able to get the information they need. It’s disgraceful in my opinion, and the fact that Inchydoney was overlooked is absolutely daft,’ said Cllr Hayes.
As a member of Bantry Tourism Development Association, Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said the town’s tourist office would have closed, had it not been for the volunteers who man the office.
‘It’s very downgrading to Bantry and Skibbereen and this has to be redone,’ said Cllr Collins.
County Mayor John Paul O’Shea said that the Council would write to Fáilte Ireland for clarification on the matter.
When contacted by The Southern Star, Fiona Monaghan, head of the WAW programme, said that only Fáilte Ireland-operated offices are listed on the WAW brochure. She also said that Fáilte Ireland does not design or print maps but works under licence with Ordnance Survey Ireland to use their maps and overlay key information and assets. ‘In the case of the WAW route, we cannot alter the physical route and, in a few locations, the physical location of the route does impact slightly on one or two letters in the town name of Skibbereen,’ she said.
‘The objective of this map is first and foremost to highlight the Wild Atlantic Way touring route and all the Discovery Points along the route.’