Seasonality still a big issue

NOT every place in the country is experiencing the same gains from tourism but a more united approach could see greater benefits being shared, Fáilte Ireland’s Head of the Wild Atlantic Way, Fiona Monaghan, told the Let’s Talk Tourism forum in Killarney.

She said there are even still some areas in Kerry where the season lasts just six to eight weeks and the ‘closed’ sign goes up as early as September.

Seasonality and regionality are two of the biggest issues that need to be addressed and, with Ireland’s consistent climate, there is no reason why visitors can’t enjoy the same activities in March or September as they can in July or August.

Ms Monaghan said in the Skellig area of Kerry there had been nine different tourism groups competing with each other and the perception was that Killarney was “the big bad wolf” for taking everybody but, with Fáilte Ireland support, there is now a unified approach with one vision for the Skellig Coast and it is working.

“Visitors are now getting a real sense of what it is all about,” she said.

The Fáilte Ireland official said a greater effort needs to be made on the ground to develop the visitor experience and extend the season.

“If you ask a business ‘why do you close on 15th September?’ the answer you always get is ‘because we always do’ and methods must be put in place to make March to October more beneficial,” she stated.

Pointing to the success of the Waterford Greenway attraction as an example of what can be achieved, Ms Monaghan said on November 3 it was virtually impossible to make a dinner reservation in Dungarvan because the area was so busy.

“If you didn’t have your bike booked, good luck to you,” she added.