“Recently there have been attempts to do this,” said Fine Gael’s Jerry Buttimer, “but very little has been achieved.”
He was partly referring to the establishment last year of a entity to be known as Cork INC (Innovated, Networked, Connected). To be run under the joint auspices of Cork City and County Councils, it was envisaged the INC would show a unified commitment to achieving the most for the region in terms of tourism, visitors, investment, marketing, and economic development.
Mr Buttimer’s comments followed the launch of a new national tourism policy, People Place and Policy — Growing Tourism to 2025.
It was launched last week by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Transport Tourism, and Sport, Paschal Donohoe.
Cork South Central TD Mr Buttimer said the policy would provide the basis for a unified approach to marketing Cork as a single tourist destination over the next decade.
However, he said, efforts to date, to pursue this strategy leave a lot to be desired.
“Last year Cork INC was established but little has been heard from it,” he said.
“Fáilte Ireland has set up a group to put together a strategy to market Cork but it will be nine months before anything is heard about its plans.
“Clearly, marketing Cork as a single destination has not been treated with the urgency it deserves.”
He said the city and county councils are both focused on marketing their own areas.
“This only leads to confusion as locals, let alone tourists, don’t realise where the boundary is between both councils,” he said.
“Even the simple issue of one website for Cork has not been addressed.
“Cork City Council uses the cork.ie site and Cork County Council uses visitcountycork.com site.
“This only adds to the confusion for anyone looking to visit Cork.
“The urgency of a new approach to marketing Cork is clearly evident when the issue of the continuing decline in passenger numbers at Cork Airport is considered.”
Meanwhile, Tourism West Cork, the recently formed promotional steering group consisting of tourism representatives from Kinsale to Beara, met Mr Donohoe and West Cork Fine Gael TD Jim Daly last week.
The group wanted to show how their aims are aligned with the long-term goals of Government policy.
However, they also highlighted the urgent need for a cohesive, adequately funded marketing strategy to actively promote at home and abroad the entire West Cork region and its Wild Atlantic Way offering, in particular.
Group chairman Finbarr Harrington said they were pleased with the meeting.
“The minister recognised the potentially crucial role West Cork can play due to its position at the start of the Wild Atlantic Way, as a hinge between the WAW and the new South East tourism initiative, and as a support for Cork Airport,” said Mr Harrington.
“He also saw that West Cork, as a whole entity, has under-promoted itself and that our group is well positioned to help solve this problem.”