Clare tourism operators are optimistic that the 2012 tourist season, which runs from May to October, will record an increase in overall visitor numbers compared to the same period last year.
The Clare Tourism Forum, which comprises in excess of 80 tourism and hospitality sector members, today reported an “extremely positive” start to the year, despite national tourism trends showing a 1.2% drop in overseas visitors during the first three months of the year.
Figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that in the period January – March 2012, the total number of trips to Ireland decreased by 13,700 to 1,165,100. Trips by North American residents to Ireland dipped by 6.5pc, while trips by residents of European Countries other than Great Britain decreased by 3.7pc to 392,800.
“Contrary to what the national figures suggest, tourism operators in County Clare have noted an increase in visitors from North America and Continental Europe, particularly free independent travellers (F.I.T.) from France, while visitors from Britain continue to hold firm. While figures for County Clare have not yet been released by the CSO, it is clear that the first quarter of 2012 has been extremely encouraging,” explained Forum Chair Barbara Faulkner
Ms. Faulkner continued: “Continental Europeans, particularly German and French visitors, have been very impressed with the value for money provided across the tourism and hospitality sectors in County Clare. Significant efforts have been made at local level, both through the Forum and individually by operators, to promote the County and provide excellent value at our tourist attractions, along with the County’s hotels, holiday homes and B&B’s.”
Paul Madden, Forum member and General Manager of the Temple Gate Hotel in Ennis, noted that the value for money to be received in Clare has “never been better”.
“Clare is now a super affordable County to visit, offering excellent value for money in terms of accommodation, food and visitor attractions. We have noticed a notable increase in number of visitors to Clare who are outdoor enthusiasts and have travelled here to take part in mass participation events, go hillwaking and enjoy some of country’s best known surfing locations. The Clare Tourism Forum has been targeting this growing section of the tourist market and thankfully this promotional work is paying dividends,” stated Mr. Madden.
Meanwhile, more than 80 tourism and hospitality operators from across Clare will host stands at the Clare Tourism Forum Gala Networking Evening, the County’s foremost annual networking event, later this month.
This year’s trade event will feature a ‘Speed Networking’ session during which tourism business owners and visitor attraction operators will exchange information about their operations. The Gala evening also will feature the launch of a new ‘Clare Tourism Initiative’, aimed at capitalising on County Clare’s reputation as a “friendly and welcoming” tourism destination.
According to Philomena O’Connell, Marketing Officer, Clare Tourism Forum: “This free business-to-business event is intended to provide tourism and hospitality industry representatives with the opportunity to showcase their tourism operation to the local sector, including the accommodation, activities and attractions sectors, food producers, festival and event operators, transport sector, local tourism agencies, hospitality industry associations, and Tourist Information Offices. It also presents an invaluable opportunity to network and to receive updates on local tourism developments and offers available within the County.”
The Clare Tourism Forum Gala Tourism Networking Evening takes place at 6.00pm on Tuesday 22 May 2012 in the Falls Hotel, Ennistymon, Co. Clare. For more see www.clare.ie or contact email@example.com / 065 6846537.