independent

Saturday 23 August 2014

Lucky to have tourism at our fingertips

Published 18/06/2013 | 05:42

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The tourism industry has taken over my life, as I know it. Having worked and learned in the industry for the last 30 years, I can honestly say I enjoyed every day of it.

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The Irish National Heritage Park at Ferrycarrig has been my 'job spot' for the last 13 years – as general manager – with no day the same as the one before (sounds like a cliche).

The park was set up as a not-for-profit tourist and education attraction, and opened in 1987.

To date, over a million visitors have crossed the door and enjoyed every minute of it.

We are at the final stage of a re-development which has cost approx €1,500,000 and has been funded by Failte Ireland, Wexford Local Development, Wexford County Council and the heritage park itself.

The park employs 23 people and opens for 362 days of the year. It is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the south east.

Realising that we had to offer more activities than just a tour of the heritage park, we decided – with the help of Crane Bag Consulting – that we were going to make it as fun as possible for all with such activities as row your own coracle boat, archery, spear throwing, panning for gold, bushcraft, bow-making, walking stick-making...to name but a few.

The heritage park has a very good repeat customer base with people who visited as children on their school tour, or with family, now coming back with their own families and remembering with excitement when they were here last.

Tourism in the county is mainly dependent on our domestic market, as it has a long tradition with people coming for the summer to stay for weeks on end in our caravan and camping sites and staying in their 'second homes'.

The main appeal for families seems to be the wonderful clean and safe beaches we have on offer from the north of the county to the south, and so many activities for all to enjoy, kite surfing, quad biking, horse riding, pottery making, hill walking, bowling, cycling, fishing, painting, hat making, bird watching, cookery classes, surfing, boating, walking, heritage, theatre and the list is endless...

Without this, domestic market share Wexford would be in trouble as we do not get a large amount of international visitors apart from the Wexford Opera Festival time and now such events as the Art in the Open Festival, and a few others.

We all can either make or break this industry for everyone.

Every man, woman and child in County Wexford benefits from tourism in either a direct or indirect way.

I would hope that we all acknowledge the work and money spent on promoting this county within Ireland, and abroad and realise that the tourists just 'don't magic themselves' to the shops, restaurants, hairdressers, etc as there are people involved with sales and marketing departments of hotels, heritage sites, activity companies, visit Wexford, Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland who spend a lot of euros to make this happen.

Lets all decide we want this industry to grow and grow and that we become the county to visit, with so much to offer every visitor. Is feidir linn!

Wexford People

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