Need to boost tourism in Co Wexford
County Wexford's tourism industry aims to nail down the region's brand as forcefully as the Ring of Kerry and Clare's, Cliffs of Moher. Peter Wilson, who heads up the county's collaborative tourism group, 'Visit Wexford', is concerned that Failte Ireland's main focus for 2014, is on its Western seaboard project 'The Wild Atlantic Way'.
'We have to develop one big thing to pull people to our county, because although we have several historical and scenic attractions here, we do not have a unified concept, and we need to define this clearly as an industry, or we'll be forgotten about,' Wilson said.
Wilson, the Manager of Whites Hotel, was responding to the latest tourism figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) that boasted a hike of 1 million overseas visitors to Ireland since 2011, a growth he fears will not be sustained in the south east of the country, since state's offical tourist board's 2013 project, 'The Gathering', has ended.
During last year's national 'Gathering' initiative, the Irish disapora were invited home by communities across the country, and Wexford's tourism struck a promotional coup with JFK50 celebrations in New Ross, which showcased the ancestral home of President John F. Kennedy, and received international televison coverage in the US, on Sky News, and on RTE's global channel.
Last week, Failte Ireland chief Shaun Quinn said the national tourism development authority would be concentrating on the Western seaboard this year.
'Despite fears that last year's 'Gathering' might prove to be a temporary bounce, tourism is actually growing beyond that impressive performance, Failte Ireland will be doing its bit to sustain this momentum with a big focus this year on our 'Wild Atlantic Way' initiative,' Quinn said.
According to the state's offical tourist board, some €10 million is to be invested in the 2,500km Atlantic route along the west coast, from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal to Kinsale in Cork, and is already a hit in key overseas markets like Britain, the US, France and Germany.
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring T.D., dubbed the initiative "the journey of a lifetime" .
'It has massive potential to bring more visitors and more jobs to rural communities right along the western seaboard. That's why we will soon be promoting it even further afield in places like Spain, Italy and the Netherlands.' he said.
The East and South branch of Failte Ireland were asked to comment on funds available for the region this year, but did not respond.
'Visit Wexford', which is an alliance between the Hotel Federation , Wexford Local Development, Heritage Tourist Attractions, the County Council and Failte Ireland, are working hard to ensure the county is promoted at trade shows and is not forgotten as a tourist destination.
'We are working on a concept of a heritage trail from Cork to Carlingford which is not yet finalised, but would be very positive for Wexford tourism,' Wilson said.
Last week, Wexford Local Development (WLD) launched the 2014 Wexford Gardens Trail brochure and has developed a series of tourism trails and networks through the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013, in a bid grow visitor numbers to the county. There are three existing Wexford trails covering 60 different heritage,g arden and craft sites around the county, with a Pugin architectural trail planned for the future.
Check out www.visitwexford.ie or view the 'Visit Wexford' YouTube channel.
New Ross Standard