A large number of businesses and community members from throughout North Mayo attended a tourism networking event in the Great National Hotel, Ballina on Thursday, June 7, run by the Mayo North Promotions Office. Featuring a talk and workshop facilitated by tourism consultant Cillian Murphy, the co-founder and past chairman of Loop Head Tourism, the morning was designed as a “think tank” for businesses and individuals to network brainstorm and inspire conversations about tourism development for North Mayo in the years ahead.
Represented on the day were accommodation providers, restaurants, cafés, pubs, activity providers, retailers, tour providers and visitor attractions. Throughout the morning , which was supported by Great National Hotel Ballina, attendees were encouraged to collaborate, cross-promote and strengthen the collaborative promotion effort for the region.
Loop Head Tourism – a destination geographically and historically similar to North Mayo – has achieved considerable success by making tourism work for it, rather than the other way round. It maximises the benefits of tourism to the community by being selective in the types of tourists it wants to attract (more independent travellers with a genuine interest in the landscape and its activities, less low-yield high-volume tours), by guarding the quality of life of locals, by minimising “leakage” of revenue outside the area and ensuring that local businesses are the main beneficiaries. Through good planning, it is passionate about protecting the area’s unique features –its landscape and biodiversity. Essentially the destination is managed by focusing on quality of tourism, not quantity and by promoting sustainable, environmentally conscious tourism growth.
Before promoting a tourism destination, Murphy suggests, we should ask ourselves “why we want tourism”, rather than “how we get tourists”; and the “why” will, in the long term, guide the strategic development of tourism to maximise the benefit to those communities. Some of the key themes that emerged as primary motivators for tourism development in North Mayo were sustainable economic development, job creation and in the long term, being able to provide our young people with the option to stay or return to their native areas rather than being forced to leave to find employment.
Anne-Marie Flynn, Manager, Mayo North Promotions Office said: “We were delighted with the level of attendance and participation at this event and with the enthusiasm for development that exists in North Mayo. We hope the event was thought-provoking and we look forward to taking the outputs from the workshop and building them into a long-term vision for tourism development in North Mayo that will best benefit our communities.”
Mayo North has also recently developed a membership scheme, where businesses who wish to contribute to a collective development and promotional budget for the region now have an opportunity to do so. Financial contributions will be used as match funding to procure additional finance from sources such as LEADER, to facilitate media familiarisation trips, attend trade promotional fairs, develop quality marketing materials, and ultimately empower and promote the businesses who contribute. Such a collective and democratic approach has proven successful many destinations, none more so than in neighbouring Westport.
Anne-Marie Flynn said: “We hope that over the coming months and years that businesses and individuals will reap the rewards of contributing a small amount that will ultimately help us to sustainably develop and strategically promote our area to the right people in Ireland and abroad, will help to stimulate new business growth and ultimately ensure a brighter economic future for the rural communities of North Mayo. Membership is open to all businesses of any persuasion and monthly payments can be facilitated.”
Businesses that have already supported the Mayo North collective fund include Great National Hotel Ballina, the Ice House, Mount Falcon, The Twin Trees Hotel, Dillon’s Bar and Restaurant, Foxford Woollen Mills and Ballina Manor Hotel.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the Mayo North collective, please contact the office by calling (096) 80095 or emailing email@example.com.
Contact: Anne-Marie Flynn, Manager, Mayo North Promotions Office
Tel: 096 80090 or 087 9848459