Fo­cus of tourism event stretches far be­yond Brexit

The Kerryman (Tralee Edition) - - NEWS - By STEPHEN FERNANE

FOL­LOW­ING the suc­cess of last year’s in­au­gu­ral Na­tional Tourism Fo­rum in Kil­lar­ney, ‘Let’s Talk Tourism 2017’ re­turned with aplomb to The Bre­hon Ho­tel where a day-long con­fer­ence ex­am­ined the chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties fac­ing the in­dus­try both in Kerry and na­tion­ally.

While last year’s con­fer­ence had a stong fo­cus on Brexit and its pro­jected reper­cus­sions, this year the fo­cus was much broader.

Pre­sented by TV and Ra­dio Broad­caster Olivia O’Leary, a top-notch team of speak­ers in­cluded Paul Carty, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Guin­ness Store­house, Fiona Mon­aghan, Head of Wild At­lantic Way at Fáilte Ire­land, CEO of Malaysia Air­lines, Peter Bellew, Cen­tral Mar­ket­ing Di­rec­tor of Tourism Ire­land, Mark Henry, and Min­is­ter for Tourism and Sport, Bren­dan Griffin, to name but a few.

Tourism is an in­dus­try ex­posed on many lev­els to a cross-sec­tion of fac­tors, both pos­i­tive and re­stric­tive, and some of the top­ics dis­cussed in de­tail were re­gion­al­i­sa­tion and sea­son­al­ity, food tourism, dig­i­tal and screen tourism, air ac­cess, and skills and man­power.

Also speak­ing was John Bren­nan, MD of The Park Ho­tel and Dromquinna Manor in Ken­mare and he de­scribed Let’s Talk Tourism as ex­tremely pos­i­tive for the in­dus­try as it gets peo­ple talk­ing. He also praised Fáilte Ire­land and Tourism Ire­land for out­lin­ing the var­i­ous strate­gies, trends and changes fac­ing the in­dus­try.

“It evokes a great thought process for the in­dus­try that is good for us all, while it’s equally good that Kerry gets to host it,” said John.

The 2017 tourist sea­son was de­scribed on the day as ‘ex­tremely good’, while The Wild At­lantic Way was cited as a ma­jor suc­cess and a pos­si­ble tem­plate for en­hanc­ing fu­ture tourism strate­gies. Brexit formed a ma­jor part of last year’s dis­cus­sions but John says this ap­proach had been ad­justed slightly in 2017.

“You can­not plan for some­thing you don’t know how or when is go­ing to hap­pen. I was at a tourism con­fer­ence in Madrid re­cently and we lit­er­ally spent three min­utes talk­ing about Brexit as we don’t know how it’s go­ing to pan out. Peo­ple are still go­ing to take va­ca­tions and peo­ple’s net wealth is in­creas­ing.

“We must also re­mem­ber that we’re in a Eu­ro­zone with 26 other coun­tries. I think it’s fair to say the ‘un­known’ as­pect of Brexit poses its sin­gle big­gest threat at the mo­ment,” said John.

A sec­tion of the at­ten­dance at the Let’s Talk Tourism con­fer­ence in The Bre­hon. Photos by Don MacMona­gle Kate O’Leary, Brian Mi­ley, Conor Hen­ni­gan and Diar­muid Leen.

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