Pól Ó Conghaile: How one small Irish group is re-thinking ‘drive-thru tourism’

Loop Head, Co Clare

Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile: How one small Irish group is re-thinking ‘drive-thru tourism’


How can tourism assist communities, quite than the opposite method spherical?



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How can tourism assist communities, quite than the opposite method spherical?

The query was posed by a former fishing skipper final week.

“Do not ask, ‘How can we get extra vacationers?'” he stated. “Ask, ‘Why do we would like them?'”

The skipper was Cillian Murphy, who now runs Murphy Blacks restaurant in Kilkee, Co Clare, along with his spouse, Mary.

Cillian was one speaker (I used to be one other) at a tourism seminar in Mullingar, and he shared the story of Loop Head Tourism (loophead.ie) – a group group from Kilkee, Kilbaha and Carrigaholt that has taken the peninsula from an financial precipice to a European Vacation spot of Excellence award.

Somewhat than blindly chase numbers, Cillian says, small communities ought to put sustainability first. “Would you like one million guests spending €1,” as he places it. “Or 100,000 spending a tenner?”

Take the Cliffs of Moher, which final yr attracted over 1.5 million guests. A brief drive from Loop Head, the cliffs are a billboard picture of Eire bringing many advantages to West Clare. Nevertheless it’s additionally true that locals wrestle with site visitors, and most guests do not stay or spend in a single day.

Typical knowledge will inform you such enterprise contributes in a ‘trickle-down’ method. Coach excursions are a key driver of Irish tourism, and arguably extra environmentally pleasant than having comparable numbers journey by automobile. However one other query must be requested, Cillian says. What’s “drive-thru tourism” costing native communities?

“Overtourism is not simply in Barcelona or Majorca,” he says. Loop Head’s strategy has been “to make use of tourism as a instrument, not the tip purpose”, and to have locals work collectively, alongside key companions like Fáilte Eire, Clare County Council and Clare Native Growth Firm.

They resisted the opening of a café at Loop Head Lighthouse, for instance – so native pubs may maintain their jobs and enterprise.

In Kilkee, eating places have a rota various the nights they shut, and take summer time holidays at completely different occasions.

On Loop Head peninsula, meals companies attempt to supply their fundamental substances from native farmers, fishermen and producers.

9 years in the past, Cillian says, fishing was “virtually useless” and the vacationer season ran from June to September. At this time, a managed trickle of holiday makers has created some 100 full-time jobs, stretched the season, and strengthened social material.

Phrase is spreading, and never simply to evolving locations like Mullingar. Cillian lately shared his story on Norway’s Lofoten Islands.

He requested locals there the identical query. “Who would you like in your house?”

Learn extra:

Secret Eire: Loop Head

Weekend Journal

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