Killarney seeks to spread the word

Long before the national ambassador programme, Killarney already had “a track record in local ambassadors”, attracting conferences worth hundreds of thousands of euro and filling the town’s hotels, restaurants, and parklands, the Kerry launch of the Fáilte Ireland national ambassador programme heard yesterday.

Killarney seeks to spread the word

Ambassadors could be anyone from professionals to enthusiastic hobbyists, a lunch hosted by the Kerry Convention Bureau at the Killarney Plaza hotel heard.

Among the Killarney ambassadors over the years were local businessman Billy Daly, who had attracted the Musgraves and Supervalu conferences to the town, and teacher Lily Cronin, a leading figure in the ASTI who had been instrumental in bringing that teachers conference to Killarney “eight to 10 times”.

Terry Lambe, who has a home in Killarney, as well as the US, worked with Pfizer for 30 years and had brought meetings to Killarney several times. He said of a recent meeting he attended in Lisbon: “You go to Lisbon and you never see it. In Killarney, it is all concentrated. I brought Pfizer here because it’s home, it’s a super location, a clean place, a place to be proud of.”

Safety, nice restaurants, and being able to go out for a few drinks were important considerations, he said.

However “price is now an important barometer” in attracting conferences, and Dr Lambe said Killarney should stress its cost-effectiveness.

“London is three times the cost of a week in Killarney. So are other large cities. We must get the message of Killarney out,” he said.

“Face to face communications are critical, despite all the technology.”

Speakers from Fáilte Ireland said there were 550 ambassadors in Ireland. Financial supports range from helping to meet the costs associated with a bid to host an international conference of over 50 people, to a marketing grant of €10 per delegate attracted here.

“A conference ambassador is pretty much anybody,” Fáilte Ireland’s Azeta Seery said.

Already for 2014, Killarney has helped secure the 500-600 delegate Europars 2014 conference, currently being held in Hungary. This will be worth €770,000 to the town. A major Alpine rescue conference is in the pipeline and a large adventure travel agents conference with up to 800 delegates and worth over €1m was confirmed for next autumn.

Johnny Maguire, president of the Killarney Chamber of Commerce, said: “Things don’t happen by accident; things are made happen.”

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