Cork aims to become a sustainable tourism destination as part of recovery strategy

Friday, February 11, 2022. 10:39am
Cork aims to become a sustainable tourism destination as part of recovery strategy

Visit Cork launches plans to aid Cork’s tourism recovery, supporting 22,500 jobs in the region

Tourism has so much to offer in supporting sustainable growth”, Taoiseach Micheal Martin

Cork’s tourism and hospitality industry, which supported an estimated 22,500 jobs in the region before the Covid-19 pandemic, got a welcome boost yesterday as Visit Cork announced their ambitious plans to aid Cork’s tourism recovery and grow visitor numbers in the region.

Visit Cork, which is the official tourism body for the Cork region with responsibility for attracting leisure (Pure Cork) and business tourists (Cork Convention Bureau), launched its Strategic Plan for 2022-2026 at a Tourism Industry Day in Fota Island Resort Hotel.  It was the first in-person tourism briefing to take place in Cork since March 2020 due to restrictions and the event was attended by nearly 200 industry colleagues.

Speaking at the event, The Taoiseach Micheal Martin, who joined virtually, said, “As a proud Corkonian, I know only too well the wonderful sights the region has to offer, and the warmth of its people. Tourism has so much to offer in supporting sustainable growth.  

“The Government fully supports Visit Cork’s determination to drive job creation, economic development, and to ensure Cork remains a welcoming place for innovation, talent and tourists alike.”

As part of their plans to grow Cork’s share of the domestic and international market, Seamus Heaney, Head of Visit Cork, revealed that the DMO (Destination Marketing Organisation) is putting a new focus on showcasing the region as a sustainable tourism destination.

Mr. Heaney said, “Our plan is to showcase the wealth of Pure Cork experiences delivered with a new focus on Cork as a sustainable tourism destination. This positioning will open huge opportunities as sustainable holidays and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) business is expected to be one of the biggest future tourism trends.”  

The aim is to improve on Cork’s 2021 GDS-Index score of 70%.  This is the leading sustainability benchmarking and improvement programme for destinations around the world.  In order to achieve this, Visit Cork will continue to work with the local hospitality industry on a subsidised third party sustainable accreditation programme; they will host annual Smart Tourism seminar and training sessions;  a Cork Convention Bureau Member Sustainability Charter will be created; and the team will incentivise trade partners through a yearly Visit Cork Green Award.  There are also plans to continue with the Visit Cork Green Week, which commenced in 2021.

In addition, all business tourism clients who are hosting a conference or event in Cork, will be presented with CSR (corporate social responsibility) options to support Cork social, environmental and economic causes, and a legacy and social impact programme will be put in place for all future events.  

Visit Cork also outlined that there will be a more consistent approach to marketing the region’s unique experiences and offering, and announced their aim to increase the annual marketing spend to €1 million to promote Cork to leisure and business tourists.  

Among numerous other initiatives, the team will focus on a new overseas market each year, in collaboration with Tourism Ireland and Cork Airport, to increase awareness in regions that have easy access links to Cork. Visit Cork have also committed to once again having a presence at key international and national trade events to sell the region, and they will roll out at least three seasonal marketing campaigns per annum.  An increased focus will also be put on collaboration and building the industry network, and the aim is to have an overall digital first approach.  

Within Cork, Visit Cork are dedicated to creating stronger links between the city and county destinations, and new levels of cross selling, packaging and the collective promotion of Cork.  They also aim to help grow the quality and range of destination events that will attract domestic and international visitors throughout the year

Mr Heaney said, “Pre-pandemic, one in ten jobs were in the tourism and hospitality sector in Cork, with 22 cents from every euro spent going back into the exchequer.  Tourism also supported 22,500 jobs here.  Our goal is to help the industry to get back to those levels over the next year or so and grow thereafter.” 

Commenting on business tourism, Evelyn O Sullivan, Manager at Cork Convention Bureau, said, “We had confirmed €22m worth of business tourism from 2020-2022.  Some of that business was lost but the majority of events have been rescheduled over the coming years, which is really positive news. In 2021 we submitted 6 bids to host international conferences and already have just under €7m worth of confirmed business taking place in 2022.  This almost sees us return to pre-Covid figures. Cork excels at attracting international association conferences, especially in sectors such as Agriculture, STEM, Space and Maritime, so there is huge potential to target this sector even further over the coming years, working closely with Fáilte Ireland, to grow Cork as a destination of choice for conference business.”

Cork Convention Bureau has brought over 70,000 international delegates to the region, generating over €100m in revenues since 2010. 

Event partners Fáilte Ireland outlined the difficulties facing the sector on staffing and skills shortages, unveiling that 30% of businesses surveyed said they could face closure if such challenges are not resolved.   A major element of their work plan for 2022 is a multifaceted tourism careers strategy to address the staffing and skills crisis in tourism and hospitality including the first ever Excellent Employer Programme.

To ensure a sustained and sustainable recovery, the tourism body unveiled plans to double their domestic marketing investment to drive short breaks to regions like Cork year-round. They will also invest further in the digital presence of tourism businesses, and they launched Regional Tourism Strategies for Ireland’s Ancient East and the Wild Atlantic Way, in addition to a local Destination Development Plan. Fáilte Ireland also outlined plans to reduce tourism’s carbon footprint.  

Almost 200 people attended the Visit Cork Tourism Industry Day, from accommodation and experience providers to festival and event organisations and tourism organisations. There was a real buzz in the air as people networked with industry colleagues for the first time in almost two years.

Attendees heard from a range of industry experts including Gerard O’ Mahoney Chair of Visit Cork, Seamus Heaney Head of Visit Cork, Evelyn O’Sullivan Manager of Cork Convention Bureau, Sam Johnson Manager Convention Bureaux of Ireland, Brian O’Flynn Head of Ireland’s Ancient East and Brian Gallagher Head of Aviation and Commercial Business Development Cork Airport.  

 The event, which was held in conjunction with Failte Ireland and Cork Airport.

For further information on Visit Cork see for leisure tourism and for business tourism.  Visit Cork also encourage everyone in the industry to upload their listings to our website so they can help to promote businesses nationally and internationally.

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