• Cyril McAree

County Kildare Fáilte and Minister of State for Tourism launch a 4-Year Strategy

The Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Mr Patrick O’Donovan TD, officiated at the official launch of “A 2020 Vision,” strategy for the growth of Kildare Tourism. This event was attended by County Kildare Fáilte, together with members of Kildare County Council, members of the Oireachtas, representatives of the Tourism industry and Regional Agencies. The strategy outlines the strategic positioning and priority goals for the period 2017-2020, to enhance, grow and sustain all aspects of tourism in County Kildare.

Speaking at the Irish National Stud, to a host of tourism providers, local trade and key tourism stakeholders, County Kildare Fáilte, who have been charged with the promotion and development of tourism products and experiences in County Kildare, announced an ambitious strategy which aims to increase overseas visitor numbers by up to 20% over the period, and support the creation of an additional 1500 direct and indirect jobs across the county. The ‘2020 Vision’ strategy aims to highlight the tourism potential within Kildare County, and maximise that potential to position Kildare as a key tourism destination in Ireland. To this end, County Kildare Fáilte, with industry employers and other relevant organisations, will support existing tourism infrastructure with a very strong investment; to enhance existing visitor experiences and to enhance the skill levels across all sectors of the industry.

This includes the creation of new jobs, new training, and a county-wide audit to identify skills shortages within hospitality and tourism sectors. According to Tony Lenehan, Chairman of County Kildare Fáilte who presented the strategy, the Board engaged in extensive consultations with tourism stakeholders to ensure that the new 2020 Vision for Kildare Tourism would allow for remedial responses to changing and controversial circumstances likely to emerge over the period, by focusing on strategic goals, and priority actions, and by introducing a stronger, annual planning process to help realise these goals.

‘In developing a forward-thinking strategy for Kildare Tourism, it was widely agreed that we must be vigilant and responsive to the upcoming challenges and implications of Brexit, industry competitiveness, service quality and skills shortages across all sectors of the industry,” commented Tony Lenehan.

Jenny De Saules, Head of Ireland’s Ancient East for Fáilte Ireland presented the Ireland’s Ancient East Brand, an initiative which focuses on the history and heritage of the eastern region. This major marketing initiative, as well as Kildare’s convenient proximity to Dublin City and Dublin Airport, and thus Ireland’s largest tourist market, are some examples of the many resources and potential that will be exploited to promote sustainable growth for Kildare. Eco-tourism initiatives and Business Tourism will continue to be a key growth sector for Kildare Tourism, and the potential for a ‘Kildare Convention Bureau’ to boost the MICE opportunities for tourism business was highlighted as a key priority. “Kildare’s location, its rich natural heritage, along with its horse racing and golfing attractions, provide many opportunities to attract spin off tourism from the city region and neighbouring counties,” commented Peter Carey, CEO Kildare County Council, who was notably thanked for his continued support and funding of County Kildare Fáilte initiatives, and ongoing planning and management of the county’s tourism.

Tony Lenehan concluded his presentation by praising the combined efforts of the county’s tourism stakeholders, which included the Mayor of County Kildare, Cllr Ivan Keatley, who was also notably present for the key announcement. “Thanks to all our partners, fundraisers and supporters, 2016 was a period of sustained growth for Tourism in Kildare, and this provided the confidence and the foundation for the future strategic direction up to 2020,” he commented. However, we have a lot of hard work to do, in the face of competitive currency shifts, to continue this performance into the future, to increase our market share of international tourists, to sustain the number of jobs and the economic growth that tourism brings to Kildare,” he concluded.

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