Innovative ideas required to offset pandemic’s impact on tourism
The potential negative long-term impact of the pandemic on the North Clare tourism sector must be countered with innovative and collaborative thinking, according to Clare County Council.
With international visitor numbers not expected to recover fully for some time, the Local Authority says that the development and promotion of a sustainable tourism product will ensure the sector is best placed to serve the needs of the future visitor.
Clare County Council is currently examining several sustainable transport options aimed at improving connectivity and socio-economic impact for towns and villages throughout the wider Burren region, reducing reliance on coach and private car travel and benefiting the local environment.
One of the concepts being explored is the potential for delivering park and ride facilities with shuttle bus services that could accommodate travel between local towns, villages and places of interest across North Clare and adjoining areas that also have been badly affected by the reduction in tourism business. The idea would support the existing comprehensive network of existing parking facilities serving the North and East Burren, including Kilmacduagh, Kinvara, Tracht, Coole Park, Lough Bunny, Fanore and Ballyvaughan.
“All of the options being considered are centred on taking more private cars and coaches off our roads and harnessing the economic and environmental benefits associated with encouraging visitors to spend more quality time in North Clare while exploring all of what the wider Burren has to offer as well as servicing visitors and the local communities,” explained Mr. Leonard Cleary, Director of Rural development, Clare County Council.
Mr Cleary said the concept being explored has emerged from the new Clare Tourism Strategy 2030 and Failte Ireland’s Visitor Experience Development Plan (VEDP). These plans have now been launched. One of the actions is to undertake research on transport. Therefore, it is appropriate that this transport research is now undertaken to deliver on these plans and to be in a position to inform the Fáilte Ireland supported Cliffs of Moher Strategy 2040. The consultation process for the latter is ongoing and early consultation workshops with the public affirmed the transport research actions proposed in the Clare Tourism Strategy 2030 and the Visitor Experience Development Plan. It is important that the transport research is undertaken now and before the next round of public consultation to demonstrate that the listening process was real and is being acted upon with further research. Tangible transport options are needed for future public consultation.
The research on this proposal would require detailed consideration of the transport funding model, types of transport and available lands /property. This requires engagement with land /property owners through an appropriate process inviting expressions of interest to meet strict criteria linked to the transport proposal. Key elements of criteria will be delivering business benefits to local towns and villages, improvements of traffic problems for host communities, together with appropriate land zoning, infrastructure, proximity to road network etc.
“Clare County Council recognises that tourism development throughout North Clare must be undertaken sustainably, responsibly and continue to be inclusive of the voice and needs of local communities,” Leonard Cleary added. “The feedback received from the sector and local communities to date has shown that reducing traffic volumes and congestion through the promotion of alternative modes of travel including walking, cycling, park & ride and public transport are key to this process.”
Mr Cleary continued: “Sustainable transport concepts such as park and ride is one of many solutions to further benefit North Clare in terms of reducing overall traffic congestion, spreading the economic benefit to local towns and villages, increasing duration of stay of those visiting the Burren and enhancing the quality of life for resident communities.”
Clare County Council will shortly be seeking expressions of interest from landowners in Lisdoonvarna, Ennistymon, Doolin and Liscannor in relation to the potential for accommodating shuttle bus services. An external property professional will coordinate the process in this research phase.
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