KILKEE’S business community has lost out on an early season financial fillip, as a conference had to be moved out of the resort because there is no hotel open that could cater for the more than 100 delegates.
Secretary of Kilkee Tourism, John Williams, has vented his and the community’s anger at losing the conference.
He described as “outrageous” the fact that there are three hotels in the resort – The Ocean Cove, Kilkee Bay Hotel and The Marine Hotel – capable of hosting this event and all three are closed to business.
Raidió Corca Baiscinn is hosting the CRAOL Féile National Community Radio Awards, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, on May 26 and 27 and had planned to host the event locally.
However, the conference, a national event recognising the talents of broadcasters and producers involved in community radio stations, will now be held in The Falls Hotel in Ennistymon.
Raidió Corca Baiscainn staff and tourist interests in the town are very disappointed and disillusioned at the loss of such a prestigious conference.
Mr Williams said it was very disappointing that the potential financial boost to the local economy arising from the conference has been lost.
“It is outrageous that there are three hotels in the town capable of hosting this event and all three are closed. It is not as if there isn’t enough business out there. We are very often asked by tour operators if there is a local hotel that can take a regular bus-load, 30 to 40 tourists, from Easter to end of September. We have to say there is none open,” he admitted.
Mr Willaims said there are a number of excellent small hotels in Kilkee but they cater for a different market.
“Medium-sized conferences, such as the CRAOL one, are an ideal size for Kilkee. The Wild Atlantic Way is bringing a lot of tourists to the area but what good is it if we are not catering for them? For the 100 miles of Wild Atlantic Way between Spanish Point and Tralee, there is no hotel capable of taking tourist bus-loads and, yet, three in Kilkee are closed,” he added.
Mr Williams pointed out that the three large hotels were developed under the Seaside Renewal Scheme when the owners got a tax break. Under that scheme, they were obliged to trade as hotels for 10 years, which they did, and “with good marketing campaigns and professional management were all very successful”.
“After the 10-year tax break period finished, the marketing ceased and the professional management was replaced by temporary casual summer staff. Business dropped. Now two of the three hotels have intimated that they want to convert to apartments and sell them off.
“The developers may get a windfall from this but Kilkee loses a vital part of its tourist infrastructure. Two of the hotels are falling into dereliction,” he added.