Send the camper vans west if there’s no room in Dingle
THE constant stream of camper vans that became a feature of the roads of West Kerry this summer is set to increase in the coming years but there is no plan to provide parking services in Dingle where they exacerbate the town’s already severe parking problems.
The camper vans are being drawn to West Kerry – and the west coast of Ireland generally – by the Wild Atlantic Way, which is quickly gaining an international profile as a very tourism destination. The volume of camper van traffic was unforeseen when the Wild Atlantic Way was being planned, but now that they’ve arrived Fáilte Ireland is happy to encourage even more to follow in their tyre tracks.
However, a problem arises when the camper van tourists seek a place to park up for the night and many make off the marina carpark beside Dingle pier, which has the benefit of being central and scenic but the disadvantage of having no washing, toilet, or waste disposal facilities.
At busy weekends during the summer large numbers of camper vans have been parking at the marina where they take up valuable spaces and add to Dingle’s already severe parking problems. There is also a knock-on effect at West Kerry’s only Fáilte Ireland approved camper van park in Gallarus where business is down because many camper van tourists are opting to stay overnight free of charge in Dingle.
TP Ó Conchúir, who has up to 40 berths at his camper van park in Gallarus, said that he had 18 bookings for the weekend of the Dingle Food Festival but only two of his guests actually turned up because most opted instead to stay in Dingle where, on the same weekend, he counted 30 camper vans at the marina carpark. “We stayed open especially for that weekend and, in the end, it wasn’t worth our while,” he said.
TP’s camping park is highly regulated and must meet required standards to have its annual licence renewed by Fáilte Ireland and to be registered with the Irish Caravan Council. It leaves him less than impressed to lose business to alternative parking places where the same regulations don’t seem to apply.
“We have to keep camper vans eight metres apart, but in Dingle I’ve seen them parked only two metres apart. What do rules and regulations mean when people seem to be able to park wherever they like?” he said.
Dingle Peninsula Tourism Alliance Chairperson Gary Curran said some people have looked at the possibility of opening private camper van parks close to Dingle but were discouraged by high costs and stringent regulation.
Gary said a possible solution to Dingle’s camper van problem would be a sort of AirBnB where homeowners would accommodate one or two camper vans in their driveways and gardens.
TP offers another solution: “If they need to get them out of Dingle, we have plenty of space for them.”
The sign on the tarmac indicates parking for buses in the marina carpark - but most of the spaces are taken up by camper vans, and TP Ó Conchúir (inset) isn’t impressed.