By Kieran O’Mahony
CLONAKILTY and Bantry are among six communities on the Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) selected to take part in a new Fáilte Ireland plan to extend their tourist season.
While plans are at an early development stage, a series of workshops has already taken place in both Bantry and Clonakilty to gauge feedback from local businesses on how to implement the proposal.
‘One of the key priorities for Fáilte Ireland and the WAW team this year is a “season extension” initiative,’ said Josephine O’Driscoll, manager of WAW in Cork. ‘For 2016 we are working with six communities along the WAW to encourage clusters of businesses to remain open for an initial two-week period. These are taking place in communities that have a good range of activities, attractions and accommodation base,’ she added.
‘Fáilte Ireland is putting in place supports and promotions to ensure these initiatives are well promoted, predominantly domestically, but also through international distribution channels with the ability to encourage short off-season breaks.’
One of the plans for the season extension initiative is to help businesses look at the economic costs and benefits of remaining open for longer, and to minimise the financial risk.
‘These initiatives will take time to develop as they require a fundamental mindset change for many tourism providers,’ explained Josephine.
A second workshop for stakeholders involved in tourism in the Clonakilty area took place at the Model Railway Village this week following the initial one in April.
Attendee Michael O’Neill Jr of Fernhill House Hotel sees the potential of the plan for tourism in West Cork.
‘It’s about the extending the season, not just to include the peak summer months of July and August, but to include pre-peak and post-peak,’ said Michael.
‘It’s a work in progress so far and we have been divided into two sub groups to develop ideas and markets to target, and we will have a mentor here with us next week for the next session.’
It is hoped that there will be promotions planned on either side of the busy tourism months, based on the unique selling point of West Cork.
‘It’s about creating a long term plan for West Cork, so for the summer months you can have things like the West Cork Garden Trail but also add in other strengths in the off-peak season, like food tourism and even whale watching,’ added Michael Jr.
Plans are in place for a promotional campaign to launch in mid-August to support the plan. The other four areas selected are outside West Cork.