The strategy, being developed jointly by the tourism industry and the city and county councils, aims in particular to target increases in visitor numbers from Britain, France, Germany, and North America and, if successful, will create an additional 9,000 full-time and seasonal jobs in the trade. Tourism currently supports around 39,000 jobs in the region.
Details of the plan, Growing Tourism in Cork: A Collective Strategy — were announced at Cork Airport by the Cork Tourism Strategy Taskforce.
The five-year plan aims to increase annual visitor (domestic and international) numbers to the region from 2,275,000 to 2.8m, which would bring in an annual income of around €865m.
The taskforce is comprised of the chiefs executive of both local authorities, together with representatives from Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Ireland, and a number of local tourism businesses.
Taskforce chairman, Ger O’Mahoney, said the strategy was developed following extensive research and several rounds of stakeholder engagement “to help develop a compelling, authentic tourism proposition for city and county”.
He said Cork is the only county in Ireland which benefited from Wild Atlantic Way and Ancient East status and it was the organisation’s aim to capatilise on this.
The strategy will be delivered through Visit Cork, a new leisure tourism organisation.
“Cork currently accounts for 17.5% of all overseas visitors who come to Ireland, and is second only to Dublin in terms of tourist bed nights,” said Mr O’Mahoney.
“The visitor research tells us that there are further opportunities for Cork to grow its tourist potential by providing clarity and an awareness of what Cork is and what it has to offer.”
City council chief executive Ann Doherty said brand ambassadors would be created and it was hoped to develop unified travel ticketing like Leap or Oyster travel cards and similar models for entry into visitor centres.
Her counterpart in the county, Tim Lucey, said the region’s food, scenery and maritime pursuits would be heavily focused on as part of a marketing campaign.
Mr Lucey said if a company came to Cork which would generate €214m annually for the local economy there would be a huge fanfare on its arrival.
Failte Ireland’s Fiona Buckley said the government has earmarked more than €100m for spending on tourism capital projects over the next six years and Cork is well-placed to benefit from this.
She said work was already going on to market the region with tour operators and at trade fairs.
Mr O’Mahoney said a key objective of the strategy was to grow Cork’s visitor numbers by 21.3%. Currently the region gets 825,000 Irish-based visitors and 1.45m foreign visitors.
“I’m delighted to say that from the outset, this process has had significant public and private sector buy-in and there has been huge support for, and engagement in, the process by a range of stakeholders across the city and county,” said Mr O’Mahoney.