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At the launch of the ‘County Clare Tourism Strategy 2030’ at the Bridges of Ross, Loop Head, County Clare were Mary Howard, Mayor of Clare, with Pat Dowling, CEO Clare County Council, Deirdre O'Shea,Head of Tourism, and Leonard Cleary, Director of Rural Development West Clare Municipal District at Clare County Council.

Tourism plan aims to make Clare “globally renowned” destination

AN ambitious roadmap for tourism development which aims to make Clare a “globally-renowned sustainable and vibrant destination”, is being unveiled this Thursday.
Clare County Council, supported by Fáilte Ireland, is launching the ‘County Clare Tourism Strategy 2030’, setting out the development of tourism in County Clare post-Covid and over the next decade.
The focus of the strategy is on strengthening leadership and collaboration, improving connectivity, building vibrant experiences, enhancing supporting infrastructure and knowledge, and creating awareness. 
Strategic priorities set out in the plan include working to develop the profile, experiences and infrastructure of Ennis as a core hub attraction and gateway to the county, as well as working with community partners to strengthen the role of towns and villages as destination hubs.
Others include working with Shannon Airport to secure and sustain new routes; prioritising the development of the West Clare Rail Greenway; promoting the Lower Lough Derg as a signature destination; establishing sustainable travel options designed to support tourism and elevating the international significance of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark.
Commenting on the strategy, Cathaoirleach Mary Howard, said, “Before Covid-19 brought a sudden and catastrophic halt to travel, it is estimated the tourism sector supported over 6,600 jobs in Clare.
“It is, therefore, essential that every effort is made to bring about tourism’s recovery and to support businesses that are affected now and during their journey back to growth.”
Developed on behalf of Clare County Council by consultancy firm TEAM Tourism, the 10-year strategy has been overseen by a group comprising the Clare County Council Tourism Department, Fáilte Ireland, Shannon Group, Shannon Heritage, Accolades Marketing and the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience.
Over the past two years, extensive consultation has been undertaken with the public, Elected Members, Oireachtas Members, local tourism industry and community network groups.
“While the strategy was prepared for Clare County Council, it is designed to be a roadmap for all businesses, communities, and government partners and agencies, and the success of its implementation will be dependent on a collaborative approach,” outlined Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council.
“During public consultation, the key message that was heard across the county was that tourism had to be about communities and their wellbeing. It had to be about sustainability in the truest meaning of the word,” he said.
Leonard Cleary, Director of Rural Development, Clare County Council, pointed out that the strategy contains a “clear focus on developing tourism as a driver for economic development and rural development”.
“The value for the county as a whole is considerably lower than its market size rankings given a low average spend per overseas visitor and a high level of seasonality, and the distinctly uneven geographical spread of benefits,” he explained. 
“The strategy aims to redress this by working collaboratively with local and national stakeholders to deliver compelling quality experiences that reflect and leverage Clare’s unique identity, becoming globally recognised as a sustainable destination of the West of Ireland, and by spreading the benefits of tourism across the county and throughout the seasons in a way that enriches our communities,” he added.
Deirdre O’Shea, Head of Tourism, Clare County Council, said the strategy will facilitate increased length of stay and visitor spend, and a dispersal of benefits to the wider community.
“In recognition of the requirement for enhanced tourism products within the county, there are significant capital projects, which have been progressing by the Tourism Department and directorate colleagues, include the renovations to Loophead Lighthouse, Vandeleur Walled Gardens and development of a visitor experience for Inis Cealtra (Holy Island). In addition, and through Fáilte Ireland funding, Ennistymon Tourism Destination Town is progressing. This is all in addition to three Fáilte Ireland Destination and Experience Destination Plans that are in progress across the county.”
“Another one of the key strategic priorities identified within the strategy is to establish a county-wide Tourism Advisory Forum to strengthen governance and act as an advisory group for Clare County Council and a spokes-group for Tourism,” she added.
A virtual launch of the Strategy will take place on Clare County Council’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels. The ‘County Clare Tourism Strategy 2030’ is available to view on www.clarecoco.ie. 

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