300 people involved in the Clare tourism sector gathered at the Inn at Dromoland last night to participate in the annual Clare Tourism Forum Gala Networking Evening.
The purpose of the free business-to-business event was to provide tourism providers with the opportunity to showcase their respective operations to the wider County Clare tourism Industry. The event also featured over 68 tourism information stands from hospitality and tourism operators, including Shannon Airport, Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark, Bus Eireann, Dromoland Estate, Visit Ennis, Clare VFI, East Clare Heritage and Loop Head Tourism.
Meanwhile, Fiona Monaghan from Fáilte Ireland made a presentation on the Wild Atlantic Way, the proposed new driving route for Ireland’s west coast.
The presentation was followed by a round table discussion facilitated by the Clare Tourism Forum Working Group.
Last night’s annual Clare Tourism Forum networking event also showcased Clare’s growing food tourism offering, including St. Tola’s Goats Cheese, Burren Gold Cheese, Burren Smokehouse Fishes, Molloy’s Award Winning Sausages, Carrygerry House chutneys, dressings and jams, Coote’s Fresh Bread, Burren Free Range Pork, Wilde Irish Chocolates, Linalla Irish Ice Cream and Cratloe Hill Sheep Cheese.
Speaking following last night’s networking event, Ms. Donnagh Gregson, Chairperson of the Clare Tourism Forum stressed the continued need for tourism operators to work together to increase tourism business in the County.
She said: “The local tourism sector continues to face challenges in an increasingly competitive and commercial marketplace. However, Clare tourism and hospitality operators are actively working together to capture and increase visitor numbers to the County. Networking events such as this help consolidate Clare’s growing status as a competitive and appealing destination to both domestic and international visitors alike. This event also helps to promote collaboration between our members and other agencies involved in the promotion of tourism at home and abroad.”
Meanwhile, Maureen Cleary, Marketing Executive, Clare Tourism Forum noted that Clare tourism operators have responded well to the shift in visitor trends in recent years with a significant increase in the number of people holidaying at home. “While not neglecting the potential offered to Clare tourism by the international visitor market, a huge amount of work is being carried out by operators, both individually and collectively, to market the County’s many wonderful attractions to the domestic market. There is growing confidence in the Clare tourism sector as evidenced by the results of a recent Clare Tourism Forum survey of more than 100 local tourism operators,” she added.
CLARE TOURISM FORUM SURVEY
The survey found that 57% of operators are confident that 2013 will bring an increase in tourism business for their attraction/business with 25% saying that business levels would be similar to 2012. Meanwhile, the majority of those surveyed say they are more hopeful for a recovery in the Irish tourism sector this year than they were last year, while 87% say they plan to either maintain or increase existing staffing levels during 2013. Just 13% of operators say they are planning to reduce staff numbers this year.
The Clare Tourism Forum was established in November 2005 with the objective of mobilising a collaborative strategy to sustain and develop tourism within the county. The Forum’s membership includes Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre, Shannon Heritage, Shannon International Airport, The Lodge at Doonbeg, East Clare Tourism Group, Aillwee Caves, Clare County Council, Bunratty Cookery School and Shannon Development.