Focus of tourism event stretches far beyond Brexit
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.