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Wheeling in coach tourism

ATTRACTING coach-based tourism to Ennis is the key to boosting tourism and job prospects in the town with a possible tourist spend of €500,000 a week, according to a local councillor.
Councillor Johnny Flynn has urged Ennis Town Council to push their plans to promote coach tourism and to create even more coach park spaces.
It was announced by the local authority last week that additional bus and coach parking spaces have been allocated in the Friars’ Walk area of the town centre, next to the Clare Museum. The move has been widely welcomed by local businesses and coach providers, who expect a boost to the amount of coaches visiting the town.
Ennis Town Council are also investigating a number of other capital projects including the development of a dedicated bus park equipped with maintenance facilities for tour operators. The provision of five additional coach spaces at Friars’ Walk is the first in a two-phase tourism strategy by Ennis Town council to attract new coach visitor business to Ennis.
Councillor Flynn has welcomed the council’s plan, however, he has urged that even more be done. “It’s great to see extra bus spaces already provided. But we need urgent progress on, for example, the eight spaces in Friars’ Walk short-stay car park that were previously used for buses. These could be urgently added to what has already been provided and would add to the attractiveness of the town for bus drivers.”
According to Councillor Flynn, “If just a quarter of the estimated 120 tour buses passing Ennis each day during the tourist season could be attracted to stop in Ennis, it would mean up to 30 busloads spending  €3000 each, that is €90,000 per day in and around Ennis. That’s €540,000 per week. With an average staff cost percentage of turnover of 15% in SMEs, this would be €81,000 in wages each week. This could create up to 100 jobs in retail, hospitality and restaurants and so on.”
Councillor Flynn had raised the issue at a meeting of Ennis Town Council last October. “I raised the topic last autumn seeking urgent action in order to generate economic activity and therefore create local jobs that were being lost to other towns with proper bus-parking facilities. In proposing the notice of motion, I advised the meeting that O’Connell Street had been voted one of the 60 best public spaces in the world by USA organisation publicspaces.org and that we were not capitalising on that with coach tours. There was general support for the notice of motion at the October meeting and during the 2012 Budget discussions in December 2011, there was a commitment “to progress a number of actions in the parking area in 2012 which should assist in stimulating economic activity in the town”.”


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