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Two County Clare destinations will fly the flag for Ireland in this year’s 10th annual 2013 World Responsible Tourism Awards.

Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark and Loop Head Peninsula have been shortlisted alongside 6 other sustainable tourism destinations and organisations in the ‘Best Destination for Responsible Tourism’ category. Other shortlisted locations include Bhutan, Bonito (Brazil) Nature Park & Glacier Region Kaunertal (Austria), Mara Naboisho Conservancy (Kenya), Valleys Regional Park (Wales) and Lithuania in the ‘Best Destination for Responsible Tourism’ category. The awards ceremony, which is being hosted by World Travel Market, takes place on Wednesday 06 November during World Responsible Tourism Day, at the ExCeL London Exhibition and Convention Centre.

The awards scheme is sponsored by The Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Tourism and hosted by and ICRT (International Center for Responsible Tourism).

According to Tina O'Dwyer, Sustainable Tourism Co-ordinator, Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark: ““Since 2008, we have sought to set the standard regionally and nationally for responsible tourism that reinforces conservation and also delivers the necessary economic impact to the wider community. We are delighted that the cumulative effect of our work and that of our partners and supporters is being recognised on a global stage. This work includes establishing the Burren Ecotourism Network as far back as 2008, developing partnerships and relationships, providing environmental and business training, developing a destination brand, and importantly linking high responsible tourism standards with economic benefit to the area.

Ms. O’Dwyer continued: “The Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark is recognised by UNESCO, and we have also been successful in attracting €2.2m funding through the EU Life programme to develop an international Tourism for Conservation Model over a 5-year period. Being shortlisted in this award category will greatly help our efforts to communicate the wonder and diversity of our destination to the worldwide visitor. ”

Cillian Murphy, Chairman of Loop Head Tourism commented: "We are delighted to be shortlisted for these prestigious global awards. Four years ago we set out our stall to become one of the preeminent responsible tourism destinations in Ireland, we have achieved much since then with both the EDEN award in 2010 and more recently being awarded the "Best Place to Holiday in Ireland” by the Irish Times. Being shortlisted for the World Responsible Tourism awards is a great recognition for the hard work done by all involved in tourism on the Loop Head Peninsula for making the jump from being relatively unknown to being a nationally recognized holiday destination and this promises to put us firmly on the global map. It is fantastic to see community initiative and enterprise being rewarded for all their hard work.”

“Loop Head and The Burren allied with Shannon Airport should reinforce Clare as the key strategic destination for overseas visitors along the Wild Atlantic Way which is planned to be on stream in early 2014,” added Mr. Murphy.

Donnagh Gregson, Chair of the Clare Tourism Forum noted that the inclusion of two Clare destinations in “a high profile global tourism awards scheme provides a boost not only to Loop Head and the Burren but also to Irish tourism”.
“There has been significant co-operation between Loop Head Tourism and Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark over the past couple of years, particularly through the fora of the Burren Ecotourism Network and the Clare Tourism Forum. Formal recognition of the efforts of both destinations to achieve a sustainable future for themselves and their environment is very welcome indeed,” she stated.

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