The chairperson of Moy Valley Resources IRD, David Dwane, has urged local businesses and Mayo County Council to rally behind collaborative destination marketing project Mayo North Tourism in light of an unanticipated reduction of almost 30% to its annual core funding for 2023.
Mr. Dwane stated: “Mayo North Tourism has done remarkable work over the last decade to build a strong tourism brand for this region, and it would be damaging for the industry if this work could not continue. It is one of the largest indigenous industries in the north Mayo and west Sligo area, providing a significant number of jobs.”
Historically, core funding for Mayo North Tourism has been allocated annually through the Mayo County Council General Municipal Allocation (GMA), which is distributed by the Ballina Municipal District councillors. In 2021 and 2022, €35,000 was awarded, down from €40,000 in previous years. However, this funding was again cut without advance notice in 2023 to just €25,000.
Mayo North in Operation since 2013
Mayo North Tourism has operated in its current guise since 2013 and was established to address a severe absence of marketing north Mayo as a tourism destination. The project has been supported financially on an annual basis by Moy Valley Resources IRD, which employs a full-time manager for the office and also provides administration services. Additional budget for Mayo North Tourism is secured through a voluntary scaled business membership programme, which is open to all types of businesses in the region to support the collective marketing of the destination.
CEO of Moy Valley Resources IRD, Annette Maughan, said: “We were deeply disappointed to learn of this unexpected cut to Mayo North Tourism’s core funding earlier this year, particularly its excellent track record and the exceptional value for money it has delivered to the region.
“Tourism development has been a vital component of Moy Valley’s economic development remit since 1991, and we are keen to continue our support for this project. However, uncertainty around core funding has always been a challenge and the decision to reduce the GMA allocation this year by such a large amount without warning, particularly after the challenges met during the pandemic, means paid marketing activity for the region has had to be paused for the remainder of the year. It also calls the future viability of the project into question.”
Promoting and Developing North Mayo as a Tourism Destination
Since its inception, Mayo North Tourism has developed a strong recognisable destination brand identify for the region. It has secured significant media promotional coverage, both national and international, for Ballina and north Mayo businesses and attractions worth hundreds of thousands of euro. Alongside this, it has produced attractive marketing material and developed www.northmayo.ie, a destination website showcasing all there is to see and do in the region, stretching from Easkey to Erris. In 2022, it achieved a reach of over two million on its social media accounts.
Mayo North Tourism has also initiated and supported several events in recent years designed to attract visitors to the region and positively shift perceptions of Ballina, including Other Voices, Ballina Fringe Festival and Ballina 2023. Visitor numbers to the region have grown steadily in recent years, with a high rate of repeat visits.
Strongly urging support for Mayo North Tourism
Ms. Maughan continued: “I would urge our local politicians and council executive to consider how they can better support this valuable community initiative. I would also strongly encourage local tourism businesses to act now and rally behind Mayo North Tourism and contribute towards destination marketing costs by availing of membership, which starts at as little as €150 per year and comes with many benefits. If everyone gives a little, together a lot can be achieved.
“It is also vital that owners of tourism businesses locally take a more active role by participating in and supporting the operations of the office. The future of this project is now under serious threat unless it receives this support.”
Chairperson, David Dwane spoke to Rian Bailey of Midwest Radio about the concerns voiced above on Midwest Radio. Listen to the interview here.
Those wishing to avail of membership can contact the Mayo North Tourism team at (096) 80090 or alternatively visit www.northmayo.ie/become-a-member to find out more.