The Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark has been shortlisted in an international awards scheme hosted by The National Geographic.
The Geopark, which was yesterday (Tuesday) designated as a UNESCO site, has been shortlisted in the Destination Leadership category of The National Geographic World Legacy Awards alongside Destination Røros (Norway) and Travel Oregon (United States).
The annual scheme honours tourism companies, organisations and destinations regarded as leaders in sustainable tourism best practices.
Welcoming the Burren’s inclusion in the National Geographic World Legacy Awards shortlist, Carol Gleeson, manager of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark said, “The award we are in consideration for is Destination Leadership, a category for destinations demonstrating environmental best practices, protection for cultural and natural heritage, benefits to local people and educating travellers on the principles of sustainable tourism.”
Ms Gleeson continued, “The award nomination is testament to the partnership approach to managing sustainable tourism in the Burren that has been developed by regional development agencies and the local community.
“Since 2006, Clare County Council has been working in the Burren to develop a truly sustainable tourism destination that gives direct benefits to the local community, promotes and celebrates local culture and produce, preserves the environment and provides a great experience for our visitors. This has been achieved with great support and partnership from local communities and businesses and the agencies responsible for tourism, conservation and local development.”
“This work includes establishing the Burren Ecotourism Network as far back as 2008, achieving UNESCO Global Geopark status in 2011 and providing environmental and business training, developing a destination brand, promoting certification, and importantly linking high responsible tourism standards with economic benefit to the area. The Geopark has also attracted €2.2m funding through the EU Life programme to develop an international sustainable tourism destination model,” Ms. Gleeson added.
Costas Christ, chairman of National Geographic World Legacy Awards, who visited as part of the judging process said, “Sustainable tourism is the foundation for the future of the travel industry, and those destinations and companies that understand this today will be the global leaders of tomorrow. Tourism is based on selling culture and nature — the very things sustainable tourism practices work to protect.”
During his time in Clare, the visiting judge from The National Geographic met with the various groups the Geopark is working with including Ballyvaughan Community development group, the Kilnaboy Historical and Heritage Group and members of the Burren Ecotourism Network. The judge witnessed the ‘Meitheal’ conservation initiative being undertaken by the Burren Ecotourism Network in conjunction with the Burrenbeo Conservation Volunteers which sees local tourism businesses giving back to the landowners whose farmland is used for recreational walking routes by repairing and strengthening routes on their property.