The personal touch helps boost Dungarvan tourist numbers

Tourist numbers in Dungarvan, Co Waterford, have increased considerably after the local tourist office moved from a side street to a main street location and initiated a ‘meet and greet’ for coach tours.

In the 1970s, Dungarvan tourist office consisted of a caravan parked in the town square. It moved from a building adjacent to the town courthouse last February. The move followed regular complaints that tourists did not like seeing prisoners brought to the court.

Since moving to a more convenient and visible venue, footfall is up 18% on 2014, according to tourism administrator Michael Browne.

Then, from the new offices, staff member Wini Swinburn observed that coach tours were bustling past the door without stopping in the town as they headed for the Rosslare ferry, 90 minutes away.

Logging the coach names, Mr Swinburn emailed the tour operators, advising them that Dungarvan had much to offer as a late stopover en route to Wexford. Several drivers responded by opting to pull into Dungarvan for a few hours.

The coaches inform the tourist office, which operates year-round, in advance of their arrival and tourist staff greet the arrivals in the town square.

“We board the buses, give each passenger a map of the town and advise them of what Dungarvan has to offer,” said Mr Browne. “We also direct the driver to a designated coach parking facility and provide him with tea and sandwiches.”

The proactive approach sees passengers given basic information such as where the nearest toilets, shopping centre, and restaurants are located as well as recommending visitor attractions such as King John’s Castle, quayside walks, and St Augustine’s Abbey.

“The first section of the new Deise greenway will open shortly and we expect that will prove a major attraction too,” said Mr Browne. “Visitors seem to appreciate the extra effort to welcome them.”

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