Fáilte Ireland are proposing to create a ‘Burren Drive’ – a tourist driving route linked, but separate to, the Wild Atlantic Way.
A public meeting is being staged to consult the North Clare community about this on Tuesday 13 November at 7pm in the Burren Centre. (A duplicate meeting is being held in the Wild Atlantic Lodge on Wednesday in Ballyvaughan.)
The meeting will be attended by Hogarths – a landscape architect consultancy hired by Fáilte Ireland to help design the ‘Drive experience’. In their words, they wish to be able to tell a story “that will make a drive through the Burren come alive for visitors and increase benefits to local people by encouraging responsible engagement with this unique place”.
Hogarths are seeking advice from the community about what those who may use the drive – whether tourists or locals – might need and expect.
- What will interest and intrigue them?
- What is essential or valuable for them to know about the environment, history and folklore of the Burren?
- What information and pictures do we have in the community that could be used to tell this story? (Please bring anything along you may feel will be useful.)
- Members of the Community may also need to advise Fáilte Ireland and its consultants of things NOT to do if designing a tourist drive through the Burren.
This meeting is connected to the consultation Fáilte Ireland undertook last year in Kilfenora and elsewhere about extending the marketing of the Wild Atlantic Way inland.
An important question for the Kilfenora Community is how WE should communicate about our village to attract the kind of visitors that we want – ideally people who will stop and stay and spend money, rather than pass through briefly in large coaches (typically on their way to the Cliffs).
Come and make your views heard – we don’t often get consulted about significant tourism initiatives that affect our daily lives!
Some useful facts
Since the inauguration of the Wild Atlantic Way, Clare’s performance in terms of revenue per visitor to Co Clare has actually declined as has its position in comparison with the other counties on the Way – Cork, Limerick, Kerry, Galway, Mayo and Donegal. The numbers of visitors is increasing but revenue is not – particularly in respect of foreign visitors, ie the ones most likely to use the proposed Burren Way. The figures below are the latest available from official sources.
- Clare had the lowest spend per overseas visitor (€211) in 2017, down 5 % from 2016. By comparison the figure for Cork in 2017 was €393, Limerick €403 – and Galway’s income increased 100% to €352. This is despite a 20% increase in Clare’s overseas visitor numbers.
- As regards domestic visitors (who on average spend more than overseas tourists), Clare fell from first place to third (2017 vs 2016), with a drop of 18% in revenue to €238 per head. Numbers of visitors fell by 14%. Again, this compares badly with the other coastal counties.
Why is Clare doing so poorly, given all the wonderful tourism features the county possesses? Is this a failure in marketing of Co Clare? Why in particular are overseas visitor numbers increasing fast and revenue declining just as fast?
The answer in part is obvious to anyone living in North Clare. As Fáilte Ireland knows, there has been a vast surge in coach traffic to the Cliffs of Moher, deriving from Dublin and Galway. No surprise then that the income per head in Galway has rocketed. Possibly the actual decline in domestic visitors has something to do with being put off by this traffic increase – although that is speculative as no analysis has yet been undertaken by Clare Council or Fáilte Ireland.
Thus the challenge for the proposed Burren Drive is this – will it either help or make worse the tourism revenue figures for Co Clare? Will this just mean more people staying and spending in Galway, Limerick and Kerry having driven through the Burren on a day trip? How can Clare Co Council and Fáilte Ireland genuinely help local communities reverse the clear downward trend?