Elected Members, stakeholders, and community representatives from across North Clare and the wider Burren region gathered in The Falls Hotel, Ennistymon, to explore new collaborations aimed at promoting the Burren as a sustainable destination.
Hosted by Clare County Council under the auspices of Fáilte Ireland’s Burren Visitor Experience Development Plan (VEDP), the meeting heard how new and improved existing visitor experiences could be delivered through a more cohesive approach to developing tourism in the region.
The meeting was attended by Elected Members of Clare County Council, representatives of 16 communities within the Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark and the surrounding hinterland, and representatives of Fáilte Ireland, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NWPS), the Office of Public Works (OPW), An Garda Síochána and Transport For Ireland (TFI).
Leonard Cleary, Director of Rural Development with Clare County Council, described the meeting as a “listening exercise” which he hoped would “inform how communities and stakeholders approach future tourism development in the Burren.”
He added: “Views were exchanged on a wide range of issues including the need to increase overnight stays in the Burren, addressing the overall low visitor spend in the area, visitor management practices, and sustainable transport and parking options for North Clare.”
Mr Cleary said innovation and collaboration between Elected Members, communities, the local authority, and other stakeholders would be key as tourism destinations such as the Burren look to attract visitors following the pandemic.
“There have been many strategies and reports produced down through the years in relation to tourism and community development in the Burren, while there are also many examples of community and Council-led projects that have individually and collectively benefited different parts of the Burren,” noted Mr Cleary.
In the context of a discussion on rural regeneration and development there was support at today’s meeting for Clare County Council continuing to work closely with local towns and villages to seek to distribute visitor spend in order to economically benefit rural regeneration and development efforts. It was acknowledged that existing and emerging plans and strategies in the areas of rural development and tourism will be key in shaping these initiatives.
Transport and parking were also discussed, and the local authority confirmed it would undertake research on available property and routes to assist with these transport and parking issues. Some research work is currently underway on traffic routes and a public open expression of interest will follow shortly on options for some parking locations.
According to Mr Cleary: “The purpose of the meeting was about exchanging views on how all of these projects and plans could be better coordinated in future in order to harness a more cohesive destination approach.”
“Clare County Council will now review the feedback received before proposing what steps should be taken next in terms of developing a collaborative and cohesive approach to addressing future challenges and opportunities for tourism in the Burren,” concluded Mr Cleary.