Kil­lar­ney tourism reach­ing new heights


The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - NEWS - By STEPHEN FERNANE

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.

Photo by Don MacMona­gle

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.

TOP: ABOVE: RIGHT: Pho­tos by Don MacMona­gle

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.

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