THE omission of both the Bantry and Skibbereen tourist offices on this year’s Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) information brochure and an almost illegible ‘Skibbereen’ on the accompanying roadmap have prompted Bantry Development & Tourism Association to write to Fáilte Ireland to voice their disapproval.
Eileen O’Shea, chairman of the Bantry tourism body said it isn’t giving visitors to the region a true reflection of what’s available.
‘It’s very disappointing, not only from the viewpoint of visitors to the area but also for the 28 volunteer staff who give up their time to provide information to visitors coming to Bantry,’ said Eileen.
‘We provide information for the whole region of West Cork, including the Beara Peninsula, and not just the Bantry area.’
The Bantry office is open seven months a year and six-and-a-half days a week.
‘We were only made aware of this omission at a recent awards ceremony in County Hall and even a few of the staff here have expressed their disappointment at not being listed on such an important brochure,’ added Eileen.
Mary O’Donovan of Skibbereen Chamber of Commerce also said it was very disappointing that the town’s tourist office wasn’t recognized on the brochure.
‘We’re doing our best here to promote West Cork and the WAW, and while we do get a subvention from Fáilte Ireland to run the office it doesn’t cover the costs of employing two part-time staff,’ Mary told The Southern Star.
‘Only for the local staff and the volunteers who man the office, tourists would have nowhere to find out information on the region. I just wonder is our work being recognised at all?’
Mary also pointed out that they had over 7,000 visitors in last year, up 6% on 2014.
Fiona Monaghan, head of the WAW programme with Fáilte Ireland, said that only official Fáilte Ireland tourist offices are listed on the back of the map.
There was also criticism from some West Cork councillors that several places like Gougane Barra were not on the map and the fact that the WAW route practically obscured the name of Skibbereen.
‘We actually have a new WAW road map printed for 2017 which is a lot more detailed and places like Gougane Barra will be shown on this map, and the route will be more clearly defined,’ added Fiona Monaghan.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said it was an ‘insult to the people of West Cork.’
‘This issue has to be highlighted and they should be put back on the map and someone from Fáilte Ireland should come down and apologise for this error. It has to be reprinted,’ said Cllr Carroll.
But on a positive note, Skibbereen’s digital hub Ludgate have funded new solar-powered interactive information kiosks, offering visitors information 24 hours a day are being installed in the town for the summer season. They were donated to the tourist office in Skibbereen and one kiosk will be located at the corner of Bridge St and Ilen St, near the Corner Bar, while another kiosk will be located at the Square.
Visitors can use them to plan where to stay, where to eat, as well as a wealth of other useful information.