Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Brian Simpson, MEP, the EU’s Head of Transport and Tourism, will join tourism groups from across Ireland at a conference in The Falls Hotel, Ennistymon on the last weekend in November.
Coming just ahead of what is expected to be the most severe Budget in many years, Mr Ahern, as a former Minister for Finance, might well be quizzed on what he would do if he were in the shoes of Brian Lenihan. He is due to officially open the conference on Friday afternoon on November 27.
The Clare Tourist Council, in conjunction with Clare County Council, has organised the 21st National Tourism Conference for tourism industry officials and members of local authorities, county enterprise boards, partnerships and all public and private bodies involved in the promotion of tourism across the 32 counties.
With several hundred people from all over Ireland converging on Ennistymon in late November each year, the conference provides a financial boost to the town and surrounding areas, where accommodation is booked out.
As well as Mr Ahern and Mr Simpson, speakers at the conference, entitled ITAL Promoting Partnership In Tourism: 21 Years Of Progress, include, Tom Barnum, Barnum Travel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (The Milwaukee / Clare Experience); Irene Adair, OBE, co-founder of Newry and Mourne-Clare Twinning Partnership and Tom Coughlan, Clare county manager (Promoting Partnerships: The Role of the Local Authority). Meanwhile, Aidan Pender, director of policy and industry development, Fáilte Ireland, will address the conference on the role played by partnerships in building tourism capability.
Former UUP councillor Edward Turner, MBE; former chairman of Kildare County Council, Rainsford Hendy and All-Ireland football winner and former chief executive of Newry and Mourne District Council, Kevin O’Neill, will chair the conference sessions.
“For over two decades, this event has promoted the benefits of adopting a collaborative approach to developing tourism on the island of Ireland. The Clare Tourist Council is committed to engaging with tourism providers and promotional agencies throughout the island in reinforcing the country’s status as a domestic and international tourist destination,” said Flan Garvey, PRO of the Clare Tourist Council.
Mr Garvey noted that the conference had in previous years attracted tourism representatives from all over Ireland to Ennistymon to share their views on the best way forward for the sector. “The interest shown in this year’s event indicates the very real commitment among all tourism agencies and operators to participate in a unified approach to addressing common issues facing the sector. All political parties, including Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party, will also be participating in the event in the best interests of developing tourism,” he added.
The three-day conference will include the presentation of the Clare Tourist Council Tidy Towns Awards, along with excursions by delegates to some of Clare’s tourism landmarks including Mullaghmore in North Clare and the East Clare Heritage Centre.
The Miami Showband, featuring members of the Catholic and Protestant communities, will perform at the main conference banquet.
The Clare Tourist Council hosted its first national tourism conference in 1989. Subsequent conferences have addressed a wide range of tourism issues, especially relevant to the particular year.