Observatory Guides Clare Tourism toward Sustainable Practices

Tuesday, May 14, 2024. 11:04am
New Observatory Guides Clare Tourism Toward More Sustainable Practices
Pictured at the announcement of The Atlantic Sustainable Tourism Observatory Ireland. Back Row L to R: Eoghan O’Mara Walsh (Irish Tourism Industry Confederation), Carol Gleeson (Manager, The Burren, and Cliffs of Moher UNSECO Global Geopark), Fiona McKenna (ATU), Mary Mulvey (Tourism Ireland), Ian Brannigan (Western Development Commission). Front row L to R: James Hanrahan (ATU), Orla Flynn (ATU President), Catherine Martin (Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media), Dr. Dirk Glaesser, (Director, Sustainable Development of Tourism, UN Tourism), Nina Kušar, (UN Tourism). Photo James Connolly.

New Observatory Guides Clare Tourism Toward More Sustainable Practices

County Clare has been listed as a key destination in the newly launched Atlantic Sustainable Tourism Observatory Ireland, which is part of a major international initiative aimed at encouraging the tourism sector to commit to sustainable practices.

As Ireland’s and northern Europe’s first member of the UN Tourism International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories (INSTO), the INSTO Observatory at Atlantic Technological University (ATU) will work with the Clare tourism sector and other industry partners to monitor and measure over 40 indicators rooted in international best practices.

By collecting indicators concerning the impacts of tourism on the Clare economy, communities and the environment, the Observatory’s objective is to empower the local tourism sector to advance toward more sustainable practices.

The launch was attended by key figures within the industry such as UN Tourism, the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation, Tourism Ireland, and the Western Development Commission, signifying the growing support in Ireland for such sustainability incentives in tourism.

The launch of the Observatory comes as the Tourism Department of Clare County Council and the Clare Tourism Advisory Forum, working in conjunction with ATU through the County Clare Destination Green Team, collaborate to secure Ireland’s first Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Destination certification.

Recognised as a global leader in managing standards for sustainable travel and tourism, (GSTC) Destination certification would strengthen longstanding efforts to develop Clare as a destination that supports local communities and businesses, gives visitors great experiences and manages the County’s social, cultural, economic, and environmental future.

“Clare will benefit from this network by establishing international collaborations and learning best practices at a global level,” explained Dr. James Hanrahan, lecturer in Tourism Management, ATU Sligo.

He continued, “At a community level in Clare, the Observatory will help produce actionable insights for evidence-based planning and management, informed by best practices and challenges being addressed by similar communities globally. For instance, data collected against indicators has already been submitted to the Clare Climate Action Plan 2024-2029, Clare County Heritage Plan 2024-2030 and the recently launched new Tourism Policy Framework consultation carried out by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.”

“Clare’s role in operating as a key destination within the Observatory demonstrates Clare’s commitment to enhancing sustainable tourism development not just locally but as a part of a global network,” he added.

Deirdre O’Shea, Head of Tourism with Clare County Council stated, “We are delighted to work closely with ATU who will act as an advisor in our bid to secure Destination Certification, which is key to developing systems for measuring and monitoring the ongoing development of a genuinely sustainable tourism product in Clare.”

Carol Gleeson of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark commented, “The County Clare GSTC Destination Green Team is adopting a collaborative approach to learn more about sustainability best practices for businesses and destinations. In the Burren, local tourism operators are already making significant strides towards becoming a sustainable destination through their participation in the Geopark Code of Practice. Their efforts will be complemented by County Clare’s inclusion as a key destination in The Atlantic Sustainable Tourism Observatory Ireland.”

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