Kerry, Cork, and Waterford feature heavily in the shortlist for the best tourism towns in the country.
Ahead of the Fáilte Ireland Tourism Towns Awards, the shortlist has been published featuring four towns in Kerry, two in Cork, two in Waterford, and one each in Kilkenny and Limerick.
In line for the Best Small Town Award are Kenmare and Sneem in Kerry, Ardmore and Lismore in Waterford, Clonakilty in Cork, and Adare in Limerick.
For Best Large Town, the shortlist is Killarney and Tralee in Kerry, Cobh in Cork, and Kilkenny town.
The shortlisted towns have already been subject to a series of unannounced inspections from a team of independent ‘secret shoppers’ who visited each location and assessed the quality of their visitor experience.
The independent judges are now examining all aspects of each town’s appeal and will be deliberating over the coming weeks to decide which towns are Ireland’s Best Large and Best Small Tourism Towns.
Now in its fourth year, the awards were specifically designed by Fáilte Ireland to encourage more Irish towns and villages to work together to enhance their appeal to tourists visiting their area.
Each year, the 100 top scoring towns from the previous years’ Tidy Town Competition are deemed to be eligible and invited to apply for the Tourism Towns Award.
Portmagee in Kerry was the inaugural winner with Kilkenny receiving the award in 2013. Last year, Westport was crowned the 2014 National Large Tourism Town with Kinsale taking the title of small town title.
Fáilte Ireland’s Paddy Mathews said the awards have gone from strength to strength since 2012.
“This award was designed by Fáilte Ireland and is all about recognising those Irish towns and villages where the local community goes the extra mile to enhance their appeal to tourists,” he said. “Over the last few years we have been impressed with the interest in the awards and even more so with the effort local communities and businesses put into developing their towns’ visitor experience.”
Mr Mathews said tourism was the major winner given the sense of pride and ownership Irish people take in giving people a warm welcome.
Minister of state for tourism Michael Ring said initiatives such as the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East were clearly paying dividends for the towns located in these areas.
“It is great to see so many new towns shortlisted for the Tourism Towns Award this year, in particular those located along and around the Wild Atlantic Way and within Ireland’s Ancient East,” said Mr Ring. “The effort that these towns are making in the presentation of their local surroundings, as well as in the experience of their visitors, is to be commended and they should all be proud to be included in this shortlist.”
The overall winners will be announced at a ceremony on November 25.
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