Tourists outnumber locals fifteen to one

Kerry County Council CEO Moira Murrell (second from right) with other guest speakers at the Let’s Talk Tourism forum, from left, travel writer Pol Ó Conghaile, Miriam Kennedy, Fáilte Ireland’s Head of the Wild Atlantic Way, Olivia O’Leary, forum moderator, Minister of State for Tourism Brendan Griffin and James Kenny, China Markets Manager, Tourism Ireland.
Picture: Don MacMonagle

ONE in every five people working in Kerry is employed in tourism-related enterprises, Kerry County Council research has revealed.

The tourism sector is a major driver of economic activity in the county and in 2017 the 2.2 million visitors to the county outnumbered the resident population by 15 to one.

Given the importance of the sector, the local authority has taken a number of actions to protect and enhance the industry, including the formulation of a strategy and action plan which outlines the council’s priorities for tourism up to and including 2022.

A newly published newsletter, distributed to over 220 people at the important Let’s Talk Tourism forum in the Great Southern Hotel, Killarney at the weekend, informed delegates that the council has established a dedicated tourism unit to lead and implement tourism initiatives.

It will work closely with tourism trade businesses and community groups, local development companies, government departments and state agencies.

Kerry has recorded tourism growth of 24 per cent over the past two years which is double the national figure and overseas visitor numbers in 2017 increased to 1.2 million.

Kerry County Council has acknowledged, however, that the issue of seasonality remains a challenge and even tourism hotspot Killarney experiences challenges over the winter months.

The front cover of the newly published newly published Kerry County Council tourism newsletter

“Investment in key products and segments, like business, adventure and astro tourism, which will address the seasonality challenges faced by the county, remains a top priority,” the local authority stressed.

The council’s glossy tourism update reveals that the tourism strategy and action plan includes over 270 short, medium and long-term actions and, to date, progress has been made in 40 per cent of the projects.

Priority projects include the €8 million improvement to the N86 to enhance access the Dingle Peninsula and the progression of three major greenway projects – from Tralee-Fenit, the North Kerry Greenway and the 32km South Kerry route, from Renard Point to Glenbeigh.

Also of key importance in enhancing the tourism project is the council’s commitment to tidy towns, green flag and purple flag initiatives, the crucial community support fund and embracing accessible tourism.

“In Kerry, tourism is everybody’s business and Kerry County Council has an organisation-wide focus on tourism, CEO Moira Murrell remarked.

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