Burren businesses work together to kick-start tourism

Burren businesses work together to kick-start tourism

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The Burren Ecotourism Network is focusing strongly on the domestic visitor market to encourage Irish people to take their holidays in County Clare this year. 

As part of the recovery program for tourism in the Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark, the Burren Ecotourism Network has been working hard to create awareness and bridge the huge shortfall in international visitors in 2020.

“The Burren Ecotourism Network is making the destination a desirable option among Irish people that would traditionally have gone abroad, or may have visited here many years ago,” said Jarlath O’Dwyer, CEO of the Burren Ecotourism Network.

Since the start of the Covid 19 crisis in March, the members have collaborated in delivering a regional response to the crisis.  This has involved lobbying the government for vital supports for the Tourism Sector and creating awareness among TDs and Councillors of the specific challenges facing hospitality business during the crisis and its aftermath.

Other initiatives include offering three Burren holiday competitions, gift vouchers and the ‘Burren Basket’.  The latter is a collaboration between the Burren Smokehouse, the Market House, Ennistymon, Ailwee Cave, St Tola Irish Goats Cheese, Burren Fine Wine & Food, Gregans Castle Hotel and the Stonecutters Kitchen.

Birgitta Hedin Curtin from the Burren Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna.

Mr O’Dwyer said that three holidays worth over €5,000 had been won with the winners spread nationwide in Meath, Waterford and Tipperary.  The prizes included accommodation in Hylands Hotel, Hotel Doolin, Merriman Hotel, dinner for 2 at Gregans Castle Hotel as well as vouchers for many other Burren businesses.

“We have learnt from the entries that there is fantastic interest from people all over Ireland in coming to Clare, and that is why we feel that there is further potential in the domestic market in 2020 and indeed into 2021.

“For many people, not being able to travel to Spain or Portugal this year, along with the strong push by Failte Ireland’s ‘Make a Break for It’ campaign has Irish people looking again at destinations like the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark.” said Jarlath O’Dwyer, CEO of the Burren Ecotourism Network.

“While the numbers of Irish visitors will not make up for the devastating loss in foreign travellers, they will be vitally important to hotels, restaurants, attractions, and visitor experiences in North Clare this year.  Bookings in self-catering and hotels have been encouraging for July and August so far, but we need to see stronger numbers in the Bed and Breakfasts, and all businesses need the season to extend into September and October with people taking holidays later coming out of lockdown,” he added

The members of the Burren Ecotourism Network have been re-opening over the last week and have adopted a Covid 19 Safety Charter to reassure visitors that the premises are safe and compliant with all guidelines.

“We have embarked on a major Destination Marketing Program since the start of July with the appointment of a new Marketing Coordinator and Video Production Contractor.   This will allow us to actively showcase the Burren and Cliffs of Moher in new market segments here in Ireland in the short term.  In the absence of international tourists, we are targeting people looking for staycation options and making the region visible on all digital and on-line channels will be central to this strategy.” he concluded.

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