Anne O’Donnell, the council’s tourism development officer, said its heritage unit had recently appointed the consultants to establish a database of heritage sites and determine which of them have tourism potential and what issues need to be addressed, such as access, to achieve this.
“This is only the start of a very large undertaking and the speed at which this can be progressed will be largely dependent on available resources, funding and appropriate planning,” Ms O’Donnell said.
She said the establishment of a database was also intended to raise awareness of the council’s heritage assets.
News of the appointment of the consultants and establishment of a database was contained in a report circulated to councillors following a request from Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) that the local authority set up a special taskforce to improve access to important tourist attractions in West Cork.
He maintained that the county council should form a taskforce to work with Fáilte Ireland and other relevant bodies to improve access to such places as Galley Head, Castlefreke, Lios na gCon, Drombeg Stone Circle and Clonakilty Bay.
However, Ms O’Donnell turned down the request saying the council was already to the forefront of promoting tourism in the whole region.
She said the local authority was already involved in supporting a number of agencies promoting tourism and would continue to play a key role with them.
This includes the setting up of a working group to promote more cruise line passengers to take shore excursions to West Cork.
Ms O’Donnell said that while the council had a key role in improving access to physical attractions it should be borne in mind that some of them are privately owned. However, Drombeg Stone Circle in Glandore is in council ownership.
There are other issues, such as the provision of public transport, she said, which would not come under the council’s remit.
“Establishing a taskforce to focus only on the attractions listed (by Cllr O’Sullivan) would do a disservice to all the other wonderful attractions across the entire county,” Ms O’Donnell said.
“The council is unlikely to be in a position to afford the cost of improvement works that might be identified, or able to influence public transport providers if they deem it uneconomic to provide a transport service,” she added.