Killarney tourism reaching new heights
POSITIVE FINDINGS IN ECONOMIC IMPACT REVIEW BUT OFF-SEASON OCCUPANCY RATES A CONCERN
KILLARNEY tourism generates over €410 million annually and supports 3,000 jobs according to a new report by Killarney Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, launched by Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin following weeks of intensive debate by chamber members.
‘The Killarney Tourism Economic Impact Review (TEIR 1)’ found that ‘tourism satisfaction’ rates in Killarney are strong, with 57 per cent of respondents stating that it had met expectations and 41 per cent of visitors saying it exceeded their expectations.
Killarney also scored strongly in terms of value for money with 77 per cent of people surveyed rating Killarney either ‘very good’ or ‘good’ value, compared to 61 per cent nationally.
Of concern, however, is ‘seasonality and regionality’ with a low level occupancy rate of 20 per cent in December, the weakest performing month. This compares to 48 per cent in the south west region, 71 per cent in Dublin and 60 per cent nationally over the same timeframe.
Killarney Chamber of Tourism & Commerce President Paul O’Neill described the report as ‘enlightening’, saying it confirmed just how important tourism is with ‘hugely impressive’ figures.
“We most definitely have the capacity with in excess of 10,000 beds in the town and there is much to be optimistic about in light of these findings,” he said.
“We also have a unique product in terms of what we offer in the town and immediate hinterlands, but also what we offer as a gateway to both the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula. According to this report, visitors are having their expectations more than met,” he added.
The report showed that 1.1 million visitors come to Killarney annually. Moreover, it predicts a 30 growth in tourism in Killarney between 2018 and 2025 which can only be achieved, officials say, if regionality and seasonality is tackled.
“The report does raise some issues, particularly with regard to our regional location and seasonality and while these are challenges we must address, we believe that with the right approach and investment we can turn them into an opportunity. This is also very much recognised in the Fáilte Ireland strategy to address regionality and seasonality and the ‘County Kerry Tourism Strategy & Action Plan 2016-2022’ objectives,” Mr O’Neill added.
Also of concern is low level business tourism in Killarney with only seven percent of visitors coming to the town for business purposes.
Key areas to be addressed, as highlighted in the report, are: greater input in digital marketing campaigns; supporting direct international access to the west coast; investment in the road network with particularly focus on the Macroom and Adare by-passes; broadband and enhancing product mix in the town, including indoor attractions. The report also highlights the completion of a Gap of Dunloe Greenway, Fossa Way and Lough Leane Loop Walk to help develop a year-round attraction, while the impact of Brexit on Killarney and how it can be offset by focusing on the North American and Mainland European markets is also listed as a key strategy.
Conor Hennigan, who is Development Manager of Killarney Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, said the report illustrates how important tourism is, while also confirming the economic imbalance in the country. He said the fact Dublin is the destination most frequently visited by tourists, after a visit to Killarney, suggests not enough of visitors are spending time elsewhere in Kerry, or the Wild Atlantic Way.
“The report also raises concerns about the low percentage of beds being booked for business reasons, mirroring the fact that Kerry has the second lowest number of IDA jobs on the Wild Atlantic Way,” said Mr Hennigan.
“There’s clearly a perception that all is well in Kerry because of tourism but this report indicates that while we have an amazing product that is delivering on tourists’ expectations, there are areas we need to address,” he added.
At the launch of Killarney Tourism Economic Impact Review at the Aghadoe Heights Hotel on Monday were, from left: Mark O’Connell, W2 Consulting; Niamh O’Shea, KCTC; Mayor of Kerry John Sheahan; President of Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce Paul O’Neill; Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin, Siobhan Kissane and Hugh Gleeson, Bank of Ireland, Killarney.
Siobhan Kissane, Bank of Ireland; Tanya O’Shea, The International Hotel; Josephine O’Driscoll, Failte Ireland and Moira Murell, Kerry County Manager pictured at the launch of Killarney Tourism Economic Impact Review report at the Aghadoe Heights Hotel, Killarney on Monday.
Brendan Keogh, SWING; John Griffin, Tourism Officer, KCC; Mayor of Kerry John Sheahan; Trish Kovarr, Aghadoe Heights Hotel and Basil Sheerin, Kerry Airport.
Cllr Donal Grady and Deputy Danny Healy Rae attending the presentation at the launch of the report.