The 'golden goose' of tourism is being choked

Calls for progress in traffic management to help Killarney grow

Sinead Kelleher

World famous Killarney which has been described as the "golden goose" of tourism, is being choked by traffic congestion and cannot grow its tourism product.

Killarney Chamber of Commerce and Tourism expects to grow the number of visitors by 30 per cent by 2025 from 1.1million visitors to 1.4million but this growth will be hindered unless traffic congestion in the town is resolved.

The warning from Killarney Chamber of Commerce and Tourism and the Kerry Hotel Federation comes as the town has been designated as a Wild Atlantic Way 'Gateway Destination' status.

Chairperson of the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotel Federation, Niamh O'Shea, said this week that tourism, which is the "economic life-blood" of the south-west region, has huge potential for growth but more visitors cannot come to the town if traffic issues are not resolved.

"Growth can only be achieved if the chronic problem of traffic congestion is tackled as a matter of urgency," said Ms O'Shea.

Ms O'Shea and Paul O'Neill of Killarney Chamber of Commerce and Tourism came before Killarney Municipal District meeting to call for the local authority's help to ensure the town is looked after.

"Killarney's tourism product is too important to be left to chance," said Ms O'Shea.

The TEIR one report into tourism in the town found that visitors wanted better traffic management and parking facilities.

Cllr Niall Kelleher said that Killarney is suffering and will continue to do so unless traffic problems are resolved.

"We have the golden goose of tourism and it is being choked," he said.

"If this town is to prosper issues need to be addressed."

Killarney Chamber of Commerce and the Kerry branch of the Irish Hotel Federation called on council management to address traffic management in the town. Among the key projects to address these issues is the development of a multi-storey car park and a relief road in the town.

Funding of €500,000 has been granted for the outer relief road from Farranfore to Lissivigeen. This section is on the capital investment list. However, Killarney Chamber and the Kerry Branch of the Irish Hotel Federation, are also calling for the Lissivigeen Muckross route to be included.

Council management said that a traffic study has been completed for this section of the relief road.

Town manager, Angela McAllen, said that the funding for the relief road from Farranfore to Lissivigeen shows the "strong commitment to the project" and she said progress was being made on other junction improvements including the Lewis Road Junction which is seen as a "large capital project" and which would help improve traffic flow in the town.

She said that she wanted to reassure Killarney tourism interests that traffic management and parking are priorities for the local authority.

A traffic management plan was drawn up for the town of Killarney and several projects were outlined in this to help alleviate traffic problems in the town. This includes improvements at the Muckross road Hahah with the public consultation commencing early this year.

Land negotiations are also being undertaken to construct an inner relief road from Monsignor O'Flaherty road to New Street via Bohereen na Goun and funding for this has been applied for under the urban regeneration fund and €1m was granted for Killarney Smarter Travel.