ELECTION candidate, Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) has called on Fáilte Ireland to step up its support of tourist offices in West Cork.
Cllr Carroll, speaking at a meeting of the West Cork Municipal District in Schull, also reminded the Council members that a tourism map produced by Fáilte Ireland a few years ago showed the Clonakilty office and Kenmare, but didn’t show Skibbereen or Bantry.
Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG), who raised the issue at the meeting said: ‘The tourism season has started, our tourism offices need greater support.’
Fáilte Ireland’s decision not to continue its lease of the tourist office in Skibbereen was cited as one example of the organisation’s lack of support for regional facilities.
According to Cllr Hegarty, tourists ‘want local connection and the tourist office is often the first place they visit to find out what is happening locally.’
She said tourist offices draw on community involvement, voluntary workers, and the backing of Cork County Council, but they need Fáilte Ireland to do and be more.
Cllr Hegarty said: ‘We are looking to encourage people to stay longer in our areas, increase bed nights, and support local jobs and the tourist offices contribute to that enormously.’
Cllr Carroll made the point that if volunteers had to be paid for the hours they are putting in, the cost would be considerably more than the fractional cost Fáilte Ireland incur in providing the service at present: ‘The recognition by Fáilte Ireland is shameful.’
Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) said: ‘People are passionate about their own area and that shows when people call into their tourist office.There is a lot of talk these days about technology but nothing works as well as one-to-one communication. Tourists really appreciate that.’