Just weeks after picking up the Tidiest Large Urban Centre Award in the National Tidy Towns Competition, Ennis has been shortlisted for the inaugural Tourism Towns Award.
The pilot competition is being developed by Tidy Towns and Fáilte Ireland to promote the towns and villages that are working hard to enhance their appeal to tourists visiting their local area.
Ennis has been shortlisted alongside Ballyvaughan; Clonakilty, Cork; Dundalk, Louth; Kilkenny; Killarney, Kerry; Letterkenny, Donegal; Portmagee, Kerry; Trim, Meath and Westport, Mayo. The overall winner will be announced by Fáilte Ireland in November and will receive a €10,000 grant towards developing itself as a tourism destination.
Competition judges will be arriving in Clare this Thursday and judging on Friday. The judging will involve a presentation by local partners in the initiative including the Tidy Towns Committee, Shannon Development, Ennis business and tourism sector and Ennis Town Council. This will be followed by a two-hour walking tour of the town. Judges will view first-hand the Ennis tourism product offering and the sense of welcome for visitors from the wider community.
Mayor of Ennis, Councillor Peter Considine, commented, “For many years, Ennis Town Council and other local development agencies, along with local business and community groups, have worked together to promote the town as an attractive visitor destination. Being shortlisted in the first year of this award scheme is a wonderful vote of confidence in the quality of the tourism product on offer here in Ennis.”
Áine Purcell, chairperson of the Ennis Tidy Towns Committee, also welcomed the news, adding that the town’s continued success in national competitions is testament to the work carried out by the local community working in partnership with Ennis Town Council and other agencies.
Ms Purcell explained that Ennis and the other shortlisted towns would be scrutinised in relation to the characteristics of a tourism town, as set out by Fáilte Ireland.
“As we have done before in advance of competition judges coming to the town, we would like to remind business and the local community to be aware that the judging stage of this award scheme is this Friday. We would like to thank the partner organisations involved in bidding for this title for their support, as well as the countless individuals and groups around the town that play their part in making Ennis an attractive town to live in, work in and visit.
“I believe in the strength of people. In order for the town to come out of this recession we need to work together as a community. Everybody has a role to play. We believe Ennis has a strong case to make with regards to each of the competition criteria and as a result, believe the judges will be suitably impressed with the steps being taken to promote the town a visitor destination,” Ms Purcell stated.
This Friday, competition adjudicators will seek to determine how Ennis tells its own unique story to visitors, what’s special about it and what distinguishes it from other towns.
They will also be determining how well the local community works together to provide an authentic visitor experience, as well as what unique products or experiences the town has developed to offer visitors.
Furthermore, the judges will be assessing how the town has taken a unified approach to marketing and developing itself into a tourism town.
This Friday’s walking tour will be facilitated by Jane O’Brien of Ennis Walking Tours. Judges will commence their tour at the Temple Gate Courtyard, where they will be provided with a brief background to the origins of the town before they are taken on a tour of Clare Museum.
They will visit a number of other sites including O’Connell Square, Ennis Cathedral, Old Gallows Green, Farmers’ Market, the recently restored McParland Building in Parnell Street, Chapel Lane, St Columba’s Church, the newly restored Abbey and the De Valera Library.
Speaking about the new award, Kevin Kidney, destination development, Fáilte Ireland, said, “A strong tourism sector can contribute greatly to the economic viability of a local area. This new award will help Irish towns and villages provide visitors with a welcoming and enjoyable experience while boosting local business. We have taken great care in drawing up the criteria by which this award is assessed. The aim is to ensure participants will have enhanced the experience of their visitors, improved their local ‘tourism offering’ and encouraged community-wide participation in the development of local tourism.”
Shaun Quinn, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, added, “While first impressions do count, a good ‘tourism town’ is not only a tidy town but also goes that extra mile. The difference lies in the role that communities play in preserving their authenticity while welcoming their visitors and telling the story of the local area.
“An ultimate winner will be announced in November but, in the meantime, we will be scrutinising all 10 shortlisted finalists to see what they have to offer and to discover which one of them has what it takes to receive Ireland’s first Tourism Towns Award,” Mr Quinn concluded.