Burren Businesses Explore Ecotourism Opportunities

From: Dunphy Public Relations
Published: Tue May 20 2008

The daylong workshop follows the publication of market research results that indicate a strong demand for such activities among Burren visitors and tourism providers.

The objective of the visitor survey carried out by the Burren Connect Project in the summer of 2007 was to assess the visitor experience of the Burren, to allow information to be targeted more effectively, and to develop sustainable services and activities based on real visitor demand.

538 visitors, all of whom were availing of accommodation in the area, participated in the survey. 63 accommodation providers and 10 visitor centre managers were also surveyed.

The top 5 rated activities amongst visitors were visits to visitor and interpretative centres, visits to archaeological monuments, participation in local cultural events, guided tours and walking routes. Many visitors expressed a desire to engage in more activities than they actually undertook on their holiday.

64% of visitors surveyed knew that the Burren is protected under legislation. When asked to rate the impact (high, medium, low or none) of removing stones, picking flowers or building mini-dolmens, on the environment, 36% of respondents rated all three activities as having high impact.

Feedback from the accommodation providers and visitor centre managers surveys revealed that 97% of accommodation providers and 80% of Visitor Centre Managers believe the Burren should be developed and promoted as an eco-tourism destination and should be branded accordingly.

An overwhelming majority of those surveyed said this approach would have a potentially positive economic impact on the area. 60% of accommodation providers affirmed they would be interested in achieving internationally recognised accreditation as an ecotourism provider.

Ms. Carol Gleeson, Project Manager, Burren Connect Project stated that the findings of the survey pointed towards a number of opportunities, particularly in the area of ecotourism style activities.

"This demand for activities and the length of visitor stay suggest there is considerable scope to increase the overall time spent by visitors in the area. As less than 1 in 3 stay entirely in the Burren, and only 14% stay more than 4 nights, it would be fair to conclude that there is significant unsatisfied demand for the identified activities. This suggests that there is strong potential to retain visitors longer through increased accessibility and availability of such activities", explained Ms Gleeson.

The Burren Connect Project recently brought some tourism-related business owners from the Burren region to visit Ireland’s first Ecotourism destination at the Greenbox in the North West.

Meanwhile, Fáilte Ireland is exploring the possibility of rolling out the Greenbox ecotourism strategy to other parts of the country, including the Burren, and is funding today's workshop, which will be held from 9.30am to 5pm in Vaughans, Kilfenora.

The event is free of charge and includes presentations from tourism agencies and the Greenbox, as well as workshop sessions with business people who have successfully attained Greenbox ecotourism certification and EU Flower accreditation.

Commenting on the workshop, Mr. Paddy Mathews, Environment Unit, Fáilte Ireland, said, "With the recent increase in the awareness among our visitors of environmental issues, ecotourism presents significant growth potential for Ireland. Fáilte Ireland is delighted to be involved with the Burren Connect Project, which it considers a model for sustainable tourism in a protected area."

For more on the Burren Connect Project email info@burren.ie or call 065-7072295.


Notes to Editor:
- High-resolution images of the Burren are available on request. Please contact Mark Dunphy of Dunphy Public Relations on 086-8534900 or media@dunphypr.com
- Carol Gleeson (087-2234263) is available for interview.

Mark Dunphy
Dunphy Public Relations
00353-868534900 (mobile)
00353-656839692 (fax)
Company: Dunphy Public Relations
Contact Name: Dunphy Public Relations
Contact Email: media@dunphypr.com
Contact Phone: 00353868534900

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