June 2019

 Monday 17th June 2019

County Clare now a Leader in Sustainable Tourism Practice

Climate Change and Sustainability have become hot topics over the last year.  County Clare has been to the forefront of innovation and leadership in the area of sustainable tourism over the last decade.  Clare County Council, for example, secured UNESCO Geopark status for the Burren & Cliffs of Moher region.  The Geopark went on to lead a pilot European LIFE demonstration programme in the field of Tourism for Conservation between 2013 and 2018.  In fact, this programme won the National Geographic World Legacy Award in 2016!

No less than three Clare destinations – Loop Head, the Burren Food Trail and Scattery Island were awarded the distinction of European Destination of Excellence for various aspects of sustainable tourism.   It must be noted that it is unparalleled that three destinations in one county or region would be honoured with this accolade.   These projects and awards mean that Co. Clare is now distinguished nationally and internationally as a leader in sustainable tourism practice.

The Burren Ecotourism Network as a model for others

The Burren Ecotourism Network is one group that has been to the fore of this development.  Since its inception in 2011, the Burren Ecotourism Network has been a leading light in conservation.  It has a tangible commitment to a code of sustainable tourism practices.  The model has been copied and upheld throughout Ireland as an example for collaboration and destination development. The Burren Eco Tourism Network is comprised of up to 60 businesses right around North Clare.

The Burren Ecotourism Network makes a step change and appoints new Board and CEO

Now Burren Ecotourism Network is once again leading the charge in embracing tourism and tackling climate change, facing the challenges head on and coming up with innovative solutions.  To enable it to do this, it has taken the bold step of appointing a CEO, the first network of its kind to do so.  It has also incorporated as a company and set up a board of directors.  “We are the first independent tourism network in Ireland to make this step-change” commented Brid Fahy, chair of the Burren Ecotourism Network. “We are excited about it as it will enable us to roll out ambitious plans for the further enhancement of our destination and the development of high impact environmental programmes.  Our next phase will prioritize expanding the membership base and embedding our sustainable tourism standards further in the destination.”

What’s next for Burren Ecotourism Network?

Jarlath O’Dwyer, the newly appointed CEO of the Burren Ecotourism Network commented ‘I am delighted to be part of the next phase of this story.  There is a new Board of Directors in place.  Many members of the Board and the Network are themselves leading lights in tourism terms,

not only in Clare but around the country.  I see the members of the Burren Ecotourism Network as ambassadors for County Clare, and role models for other destinations.”

O’Dwyer continued “What the new structure enables is expansion of network membership, greater adoption of sustainable tourism practices and further innovation in visitor experiences. It is envisaged that visitors will continue to enjoy world class experiences here in the Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark, that are enhanced by the knowledge that they too are travelling in an area where green, responsible tourism is the policy of the local community.”

While climate change is a very much a live topic right now, the Burren Ecotourism Network has been dedicated to this issue since they were first established, when the Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark Office facilitated them coming together to develop a model for sustainable tourism in the Burren region.

What is truly unique is that all businesses in the network have adopted the Geopark Code of Practice for Sustainable Tourism.  “They’ve really walked the talk and do so much more than just pay lip service to sustainable principles.  I am amazed by the commitment of time and resources that the businesses make to honouring the Geopark Code of Practice for Sustainable Tourism.  I’m equally astounded by the demonstrated benefit in terms of marketing, networking and landscape conservation” O’Dwyer observes.

Brid Fahy adds “As businesses, we’ve found that the Code is a comprehensive business management tool that enables us not only to reduce waste, save energy and water but at the same time to enhance the visitor experience and benefit from collaboration between businesses and communities in the area.”

About the CEO and the Board

Jarlath O’Dwyer of The Tourism Space is a native of Kilshanny, a graduate from the University of Limerick and has had a long career in Hospitality, FMCG, Sales & Marketing. The Board of the Burren Eco Tourism Network includes Birgitta Hedin Curtin – Burren Smokehouse, Lisdoonvarna,  Victor McSweeney – Hazelwood Lodge, Ballyvaughan, George Quinn- Hylands Burren Hotel, Ballyvaughan, Simon Haden – Gregans Castle Hotel, Ballyvaughan, Joan Hamilton – Garrihy’s Doolin2Aran Ferries, Doolin, Karen Courtney – Stonecutters Kitchen, Doolin, Katherine Webster – Kittiwake Solutions, Lahinch, Brid Fahy – Café Linnalla Ice-Cream, New Quay and Orla Vaughan – Vaughan’s Guest House Kilfenora.

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