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Collaborating locally to compete globally – the Donegal Tourism experience


Collaborating locally to compete globally – the Donegal Tourism experience


Collaborating locally to compete globally – that was the message coming from the National Tourism conference which was held last week in Wexford where Donegal County Council’s Chief Executive Seamus Neely shared the Donegal Tourism experience.


“Donegal’s tourism sector has grown substantially in the last number of years and we believe that there is potential for significant further growth in this sector.  Only a relatively small percentage of visitors, who come to Ireland to experience the Wild Atlantic Way, travel north of Galway and we believe that there is a real opportunity for Donegal to increase our share of this market” says Seamus Neely.


“The tourism sector is very important in Donegal and the business potential of tourism is well proven.  Tourism has been instrumental in our recovery and regeneration with tourism start-ups featuring strongly within the cohort of new businesses in the county”.


“Donegal has of late received a number of high profile accolades including being featured as the ‘coolest’ Place on the Planet to visit in 2017 by the National Geographic Traveller Magazine and being awarded the ‘Ireland’s Hidden Gem’ title by readers of the ‘Irish Independent Travel’ Magazine”.


“In fact Donegal, the #CoolestPlace has been trending continuously on Twitter for the last few weeks and we firmly believe that with the product offering we have and the accolades we are receiving we will see Donegal move to another level of tourism growth in 2017”


The National Tourism conference which was hosted by the Local Government Sector and supported by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport highlighted the significant Irish success stories in tourism and the role of local authorities in facilitating this success. The Irish tourism market is supported by very targeted and active participation by local government and in partnership with a number of government agencies, who work very positively on national, regional and local initiatives.


In a report launched as part of the conference, it was found that between 2011 and 2016, the local government sector leveraged a total capital investment of €170.9million in tourist attractions, with €73.3million of this investment made by local authorities, while the matching €97.6million capital was made by other stakeholders including Fáilte Ireland and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. This supported 259 attractions with plans advancing for a further 121 new tourism products.  Over 1,400 events and festivals are supported by local authorities every year, contributing to local economies. 


The Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan TD also addressed the conference and said “Ireland is famous across the globe as a destination that is welcoming and vibrant. Perhaps our greatest potential tourism offering over the coming years is where the aspects of People and Place converge at the level of the local community.  This conference showcases the collaboration between communities, industry, state agencies and the local authorities that makes it all happen”.


“The Irish tourism offering originates with local people at local level.  That’s why this event is so significant, it is the coming together of all local authorities in the country, including those with high profile Irish tourism successes, to share learnings and to see how we can continue to grow and develop our tourism offering in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.”


Other speakers at the conference included Jim Deegan, Professor of Tourism at Limerick University, Raymond Coyle of Tayto Park, Paul Kelly from Fáilte Ireland, David McLoughlin of the Wexford Opera Festival and Simon Kay of Center Parcs.

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