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The iconic lighthouse on Loop Head. Photograph by John Kelly.

Two clare attractions in line for world tourism award

TWO County Clare attractions have been shortlisted for the 10th annual 2013 World Responsible Tourism Awards.

The Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark and Loop Head Peninsula have been shortlisted alongside six other sustainable tourism destinations and organisations in the Best Destination for Responsible Tourism category. They are the only Irish attractions to make the list. Tourism destinations in Brazil, Bhutan, Austria, Lithuania, Kenya and Wales have also been nominated in that category.

Cliffs of MoherLoop Head Tourism chairman Cillian Murphy expressed his delight at the West Clare peninsula’s nomination.
“Four years ago, we set out our stall to become one of the pre-eminent responsible tourism destinations in Ireland. We have achieved much since then, with both the EDEN award in 2010 and more recently being awarded the Best Place To Holiday In Ireland by The Irish Times,” the Kilkee businessman said.

“The Loop Head Peninsula has made the jump from being relatively unknown to being a nationally recognised holiday destination and this short-listing promises to put us firmly on the global map. It is fantastic to see community initiative and enterprise being rewarded for all their hard work,” Mr Murphy added.

According to Tina O’Dwyer, sustainable tourism co-ordinator with Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark, “Since 2008, we have sought to set the standard regionally and nationally for responsible tourism that reinforces conservation and also delivers the necessary economic impact to the wider community. We are delighted that the cumulative effect of our work and that of our partners and supporters is being recognised on a global stage.

“This work includes establishing the Burren Ecotourism Network as far back as 2008, developing partnerships and relationships, providing environmental and business training, developing a destination brand and, importantly, linking high responsible tourism standards with economic benefit to the area.

“The Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark is recognised by UNESCO and we have also been successful in attracting €2.2 million funding through the EU Life Programme to develop an international tourism for conservation model over a five-year period. Being shortlisted in this award category will greatly help our efforts to communicate the wonder and diversity of our destination to the worldwide visitor,” she added.

Donnagh Gregson, chair of the Clare Tourism Forum, said the inclusion of two Clare destinations in “a high-profile global tourism awards scheme provides a boost not only to Loop Head and the Burren but also to Irish tourism”.“There has been significant co-operation between Loop Head Tourism and Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark over the past couple of years, particularly through the fora of the Burren Ecotourism Network and the Clare Tourism Forum. Formal recognition of the efforts of both destinations to achieve a sustainable future for themselves and their environment is very welcome indeed,” she stated.

The winners will be revealed on Wednesday, November 6 during World Responsible Tourism Day at the ExCel arena in London.
Last week, 12 expert judges met and took seven hours to choose the nominees. The categories cover a range of themes, from water conservation to child protection.

Chairman of the judges Professor Harold Goodwin said the organisers have expanded the categories this year.

“We decided to change the categories significantly in our 10th year. Responsible tourism has moved on and we wanted to reflect the achievements in campaigning, child protection and water conservation, as well as recognise those who have made a difference in some of our more established categories,” he explained.

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