The beautiful surroundings of the newly refurbished Johnstown Castle provided the ideal backdrop for the official launch of the new County Wexford Tourism Strategy 2019-2023.
Being just one of several jewels in Wexford's tourism crown, interested parties from all across the county gathered at the Castle's new state-of-the-art visitor centre for the official launch of the council's glossy vision for attracting visitors and promoting the model county to an even wider audience.
Bringing it down to brass tacks, the strategy seeks to boost Co Wexford's tourism offering, increasing revenue generated by 18.7% and visitor numbers by 12% and, in doing so, create some 800 new jobs in the county. Ambitious as it may be, those present were feeling optimistic that such targets could be achieved.
Launching the strategy, Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council Cllr Michael Sheehan said that it provided a roadmap for Wexford to work towards becoming 'one of Ireland's most compelling tourism destinations'.
'Basically, we're seeking to boost the tourism product across the county, looking at a number of different areas,' he said. 'There will be a focus on marketing and promotion, but also we'll seek to work on services across the county and to work with hoteliers, restaurateurs and other relevant bodies to create some joined-up thinking and really boost Wexford's tourism profile.'
Cllr Sheehan also pointed out that the council has a number of 'flagship projects' in the pipeline countywide, from the Dunbrody in New Ross to a major investment in Enniscorthy's tourism offering surrounding the castle there. Festivals also form a big part of the strategy and the council are seeking to ensure that the county's offering is not limited to certain times of the year.
Wexford's inclusion in Ireland's Ancient East provides great opportunities to attract overseas visitors, according to the chief executive of Wexford County Council, Tom Enright. 'I look forward to the implementation of the strategy and I am confident that this strategy will help to develop and grow tourism in County Wexford over the coming years,' he said.
Wexford Tourism chairman Colm Neville also praised the strategy which he feels will go a long way towards creating a year-round sustainable tourism industry, while Aideen Dowling from Fáilte Ireland spoke of Wexford's importance in terms of Ireland's Ancient East.
Among the 60 or so invited guests from across the spectrum of Wexford tourism were elected representatives, including Minister Paul Kehoe, Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin and Fianna Fáil Deputy James Browne. While the people of Wexford are well aware of the many wonderful things the county has to offer, the goal is to get this message to potential visitors and that's something that Wexford County Council are hoping to join with tourism operators across the county to achieve over the five years of the strategy.