West Cork makes a splash at Irish Responsible Tourism Awards
Eight winners announced
A West Cork sea-kayaking and walking business has taken the top prize at the first Irish Responsible Tourism Awards.
Atlantic Sea Kayaking and Wild Atlantic Walks won the overall award in an evening celebrating businesses that are leading the way in Irish responsible tourism.
Run by Jim and Maria Kennedy, it aims to highlight the marine habitats of West Cork through kayaking trips and guided walks.
“A more environmentally conscious and community-centred approach to developing tourism in Ireland is becoming more and more mainstream... and so it should," said Fáilte Ireland Brand Experience Manager, Paddy Matthews.
"It results in more genuine and authentic experiences for all our visitors."
The Awards, which use the same criteria and judging processes as the World Responsible Tourism Awards, were announced at a ceremony at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Golden Lane, in Dublin this week.
In total, there were 450 nominations from across Ireland for eight awards.
Jim Kennedy of Atlantic Sea Kayaking (centre)
Atlantic Sea Kayaking and Wild Atlantic Walks (Co. Cork)
Best Tour Operator for Responsible Tourism
GOLD: Connemara Wild Escapes (Co. Galway)
SILVER: Cycle Inishowen (Co. Donegal), Whale Watch West Cork (Co. Cork)
Best Small Hotel or Accommodation for Responsible Tourism
GOLD: Hotel Doolin (Co. Clare)
SILVER: Pure Camping (Co. Clare), Ard Nahoo Eco Retreat (Co. Leitrim), Tory Bush Cottages (Co. Down)
Best Transport Initiative for Responsible Tourism
GOLD: An Taisce Green Schools Travel and Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark Partnership (Co. Clare)
SILVER: Cycle Inishowen (Co. Donegal), Rock Farm Slane (Co. Meath)
Best in a Marine or Coastal Environment
GOLD: Dolphin Watch (Co. Clare)
SILVER: Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours (Co. Kerry) and Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre & Nature Reserve (Co. Kerry)
Best Destination for Responsible Tourism
GOLD: Loop Head Peninsula (Co. Clare),
SILVER: Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark (Co. Clare), Sheep’s Head & Bantry Tourism Cooperative (Co. Cork), Mulranny, Co. Mayo (Co. Mayo)
Best Cultural Heritage Attraction
GOLD: Cnoc Suain (Co. Galway)
SILVER: Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange & Knowth) (Co. Meath), Mizen Head Signal Station & Visitor Station (Co. Cork)
Best Local Food Initiative
GOLD: Archways B&B (Co. Wexford)
SILVER: Burren Smokehouse (Co. Clare), Orchard Acre Farm (Co. Fermanagh)
Best Adventure Activity Provider for Responsible Tourism
GOLD: Atlantic Sea Kayaking and Wild Atlantic Walks (Co. Cork)
SILVER: Life Adventure Centre (Co. Down), Boyne Valley Activities (Co. Meath)
The judging panel at the Awards included travel writer Catherine Mack, Kevin Griffin (DIT tourism lecturer), Ruth Morgan (Environmental Policy Officer, NITB), Peter Krahenbuhl (former Tourism for Tomorrow judge), Annabel Fitzgerald (Coastal Programmes Manager, An Taisce), David Owen (ex-UNEP Tourism) and Catherine Fulvio (Ballyknocken House & Cookery School).
For more on the awards, see www.icrt.ie/awards.