24th April

Initiative to extend tourist season for Connemara and Aran Islands

A Visitor Experience Development Plan for Connemara Coast and Aran Islands created by Fáilte Ireland aims to extend the tourism season and to spread business across all parts of the region.

Lough Shindilla

Lough Shindilla, Connemara                                                                                                 Photo Gillian Mills 

" Tangible actions and a process for local businesses to become involved will encourage visitors to engage with the true essence and story of the Connemara coast and Aran Islands," remarked Miriam Kennedy, Head of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Eileen Mannion, Galway County Council believes that while the region already benefits from the Wild Atlantic Way, the new plan would provide local tourism operators with the opportunity to develop experiences that would increase visitor duration and spend.

The plan charts a way forward through strong partnerships, delivery of compelling experiences and a focus on getting the  story to the visitor 'inspiring them to travel off-season, stay longer and enjoy the essence of this stretch of coast'.

Challenges

  • perception of a north-south divide within the tourism industry in Connemara, and a similar divide between the mainland and the Aran Islands
  • lack of industry awareness of existing experiences across the destination and limited appreciation of key stories
  • limited collaboration and cross-destination referrals
  • visitors generally unaware of the protected nature or scientific qualities of the landscape
  • growing conflict between sense of place and mass tourism on Inis Oírr and Inis Mór - potential to undermine its sustainability
  • limited 'reception' / wet weather facilities on the Aran Islands
  • limited accommodation on the southern half of Connemara
  • perceived issues in product development related to planning 

Opportunities

  • landscape diversity and 'savage beauty' (Oscar Wilde)
  • strong traditions in the literary, arts and music - significant association with famous names
  • strength of Gaelic culture - language, literature, song, dance
  • iconic elements that contribute to international brand awareness - the Connemara pony, Galway Hooker, Aran sweater
  • people - the welcome, craic, spontaneous hospitality, storytelling
  • quality of outdoor activities - growing demand for adventure 
  • high-end 'resort' experiences
  • film connections - e.g. Quiet Man
  • themes trail opportunities - writers, language, mountains, literature, art
  • wealth of underlying stories
  • commitment of broad cross-section of agencies to collaborate

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