DUNDALK WAS honoured by Fáilte Ireland last week for making the shortlist at the inaugural Tourism Towns Awards, where the title of National Tourism Town went to the Co Kerry village of Portmagee.
The Tourism Towns Award was designed by Fáilte Ireland to promote those Irish towns and villages which are working hardest to enhance their appeal to tourists.
As a runner-up, Dundalk received a €1,000 grant along with Ballyvaughan and Ennis, Clonakilty, Kilkenny, Killarney, Letterkenny, Wesport and Trim.
Congratulating Dundalk, Chairman of Fáilte Ireland, Redmond O'Donoghue commended ' the community of Dundalk for making the top ten at the inaugural Fáilte Ireland National Tourism Town Awards. You are a great example of what can be achieved in tourism when all the local elements are aligned with a common purpose.'
The judges found that the town's very strategic positioning in relation to major towns and transport as well as the wide array of tourism offerings in its hinterlands is extremely well addressed.
'High levels of cooperation were evident among the various local bodies and businesses and it was abundantly clear that businesses in Dundalk have strong awareness of the benefits of tourism and have committed to these some considerable resources including financial and human resources. The scale of commitment from both businesses and volunteers alike left a lasting impression on judges.
'Dundalk is a major provider of retail opportunities and this is a key attractor for the town. There is also a good range of accommodation on offer. There are a number of festivals held and these are well-supported and part of long-term planning for the town.
Willie Duffy, chairman of Dundalk Tidy Towns Committee, said they were delighted to have made the shortlist which saw them rubbing shoulders with a number of established tourism venues such as Killarney, Kilkenny and Letterkenny.
'Our strategic position in the north east gives us a huge opportunity to developed tourism. While we still have a lot of work to do, there is huge potential.'
He said that the judges had been particularly impressed by the refurbished Market Square, the County Museum and Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann's regional headquarters at the Oriel Centre in the Old Gaol, as well the bird-watching facilities at the Navvy Bank.
Taking part in the competition had been extremely useful, he said, as they had learned about the benefits of branding and offering bundles aimed at 'grey tourism' as the over 55s are the one sector who have money to spend but want to get value for money.
'Overall it was very positive and we are looking forward to making it to the final again next year,' he said.