CONCERNS are emerging in the North Clare area and among tourism businesses about a perceived low level of consultation regarding the Cliffs of Moher Strategy 2040.
There are concerns among local business people and elected representatives that the early direction of the future plan is seeking to prioritise national tourism, without taking much account of local tourism operators or the local community. It is understood that there have been rather sharp discussions between members of the executive of Clare County Council and elected representatives on the matter.
While it goes without saying that the Cliffs of Moher is a huge factor in Clare tourism, there has been a feeling that the county has not benefited from it to anything like the extent it should in recent years, with many of the visitors coming on bus tours and only spending a very short time in this county.
Some concerned parties this week also told the Clare Champion that the early direction of the plan may focus on prioritising the visitors, rather than the communities close to the Cliffs of Moher.
Niall Hughes, Chairman of Doolin Tourism acknowledged that there is some unease about the level of consultation to date. “It is concerning. There was no consultation when the terms for the tender were being drafted, we were told there would be consultation but there wasn’t. A video has been launched a few days ago and the Council are saying that everything so far has just been draft studies and strategy but there will be consultation now, and the process will start in the next week or two.”
He said it is very important that the strategy does help the North Clare area. ” Whatever happens, the outcome of this needs to be for the benefit of the county and the local communities, and we would have a fear that it is more nationally driven. We are looking forward to engaging with the strategy team and the consultants and we hope that our views and objectives are listened to.”
Mr Hughes said that more investment in the area has to be seen as a positive, but he added, “The big question is what is the measure of success, is it to just bring more numbers in the area or should it be to increase the number of bed nights in the area.”
He said that the strategy is crucial for the area, and could be either positive or negative. “It has the potential to do a lot of things, but it also has the potential to be very bad for local businesses and destinations. It can go either way and it depends on what tack they take, whether they listen to the concerns of locals or not.”
Councillor Cillian Murphy said, “I found the recent briefing on the Cliffs of Moher 2040 strategy very insightful as to the process that has been undertaken so far, and as with any draft document there is some of itI agree with and some I don’t. I’m looking forward to ongoing engagement in the future with the consultants and the senior staff from the Cliffs of Moher and Clare County Council.
“It’s vital this strategic document, probably one of the most important for West Clare, will deliver the maximum primary benefits for the local communities and industry who are after all the primary recipients of any negative consequences.”