Tourism drive to focus on facilities for caravans

Cllr Alan Coleman

A steering committee is to be set up to develop more motorhome parking sites in County Cork, especially in areas where tourism is not popular.

The group will comprise members of Fáilte Ireland, Cork County Council, the Irish Caravan & Camping Council, and rural hospitality providers.

Details about the planned, new steering committee were outlined to county councillors in Cork by Sharon Corcoran, the local authority’s director of economic development, enterprise, and tourism.

She envisages that the group will be in place before the start of the peak summer tourist season.

Cllr Alan Coleman, chairman of the council’s Tourism SPC (Special Purposes Committee), said a draft document had been drawn up by the council, with eight recommendations to support existing motorhome providers.

The council, he said, was also anxious for private operators to provide further services for caravans and motorhomes in tourist areas where services sites or parks currently do not exist.

Cllr Timmy Collins said, in particular, that in parts of North Cork, tourism figures remained low, because of the lack of proper facilities for weekend and long-term visitors.

“Several areas are well worth visiting and, if we had motorhome parks there, they would encourage some tourists to stay,” he said.

Cllr John Paul O’Shea agreed.

He said a lot of motorhome traffic passed through Mallow and if, at least, an overnight parking facility was put in place in the town, it would pay dividends.

“It’s very important that we put ourselves in a position to reap the benefits of it,” he said.

“It’s a relatively cheap form of tourism to develop,” said Cllr Gearoid Murphy.

Ms Corcoran, meanwhile, said there had already been lengthy consultations between the various stakeholders, and she hoped a steering committee would be in place by last March, at the latest.

She said that bylaws would also have to be drawn up to regulate the operation of serviced facilities and, eventually, it was envisaged the council could develop a motorhome trail throughout the county.

Currently, the local authority operates a successful motorhome car park in Cobh.

It has set aside a specific area at a town centre, waterfront car park, on the Five Foot Way, for the project.

Cllr Melissa Mullane suggested a similar project could be considered in the main municipal car park in Mallow.

Ms Corcoran confirmed the Mallow car-park option had been identified as a possible location.

Councillors, meanwhile, were advised that private landowners interested in setting up motorhome parks could benefit from grant aid, through Fáilte Ireland.

In terms of the potential market for motorhome tourists, 2015 figures issued by the European Caravan Federation showed there were 1.7m motorhomes registered in Europe.

The countries with the highest levels of motorhome ownership include Germany, Italy, France, and Britain.

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