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Tuesday, 5th March 2013
THE GATHERING CREATES PLATFORM FOR NEW APPROACH TO REGIONAL TOURISM
- 76% of hoteliers expect a growth in business in 2013 as a direct result of The Gathering
- Local community involvement key to future success of regional tourism
- Over 300 specific initiatives identified as offering potential beyond 2013
‘The Gathering’ should provide a new way of doing tourism, the Irish Hotels Federation’s (IHF) annual conference in Killarney heard today. IHF President, Michael Vaughan said that the initiative has led to the creation of over 3,000 local initiatives throughout the country with hundreds of community groups getting involved in organising events to deliver on the Gathering’s ambition.
Whilst the majority of hotels and guesthouses (76%) expect to see a growth in business this year as a direct result of The Gathering, Mr Vaughan states that the real long-term success story of the Gathering would come from harnessing the momentum, energy and grass-root enthusiasm that has grown from the ground up. He states that the next step should be to encourage ongoing participation by local communities in regional tourism programmes aimed at providing new and compelling reasons for visitors to visit the regions.
Mr Vaughan said enormous untapped potential exists to create a lasting and sustainable platform for regional tourism that would generate growth and local employment in the industry. The Gathering has already had a positive impact on tourism year-to-date with over half (53%) of hoteliers saying that they have recorded an increase in overall business compared with this time last year.
According to Mr Vaughan, over 300 specific initiatives throughout the country have been identified as offering significant potential to grow and become major tourism headline events beyond 2013. He states that tourism initiatives driven by local communities can provide a powerful force if supported by dedicated marketing funds as part of a targeted regional programme.
“The real benefit of The Gathering will be to harness the interest, application and energy that the local community groups have shown. We now have highly active and motivated groups right across our communities who are engaged within their local areas organising events of every scale. In effect, these community groups in their regions are creating reasons for people to come to their area. This is bringing tourism product development right back into the regions. We need to help these groups continue their efforts into the future through creating a support framework going forward,” he says.
“The success of regional tourism has always been based on providing real experiences for our visitors when they come – through the wealth of our scenery, through engagement with our people and our culture. Active, engaged communities bring the Irish welcome to life and that will be the lasting effect of the Gathering that can be built upon into the future.”
Some 196,000 people are employed in the tourism industry in Ireland. The industry supports one in every 10 jobs in Ireland - of which 54,000 are employed in the hotels and guesthouse sector across every village, town and city. Derived spend from every tourist euro is enormous for the Government with approximately 65 cent in every euro going back by way of some form of tax or levy.
Eoin Quinn / Siobhan Molloy Tel: 016760168
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