Traffic infrastructure in Killarney has fallen far behind the “industry-led” tourism business and chronic congestion is now threatening the tourism potential of the entire south-west region, a delegation from the town’s business and hotel organisations has told a council meeting.
Congestion in Killarney is “a daily challenge” for locals too, managers and councillors were told.
Killarney Tourism was “the economic lifeblood of the entire south-west region,” the meeting heard with people from all over the world wanting to visit the town.
However, while visitor satisfaction ratings were higher than for anywhere else — they were not for traffic.
The meeting was told 1.4m tourists will arrive each year by 2025 bringing earnings of €600m.
Management was reminded that the town is a catalyst, with its tourists branching out, meaning €76m to the rest of Kerry, according to the TEIR One (Tourism Economic Impact Review) study published in 2018.
“The chronic problem of traffic congestion in Killarney has to be tackled as a matter of urgency,” Niamh O’Shea, chairperson of the Irish Hotels’ Federation in Kerry, said.
The industry had “huge potential” but the public transport infrastructure was not in place and had not kept pace, she said.
“Killarney’s tourism future is too important to leave to chance. Tourism needs to be industry-led — and local government enabled,” Ms O’Shea urged.
Roads to relieve congestion were promised 14 years ago, from Farranfore to Killarney on the northern side; and a link road between the N22 to the N71 Muckross scenic area south of the town, Paul O’Neill of the Chamber of Tourism and Commerce said.
“Beyond the tourism sector, congestion is a very real, daily challenge for many of our members who are engaged in industrial, commercial and retail activity, as well as the residents of the town,” he said.
The addition of a car park in May, with 190 or 10% extra car spaces, was welcome but was not enough.
“Killarney is suffering when it is perceived to be full and it is not,” said Cllr Niall Kelleher, ( FF) former mayor of Killarney who invited the delegation.
The town paid the most of any Kerry town into local government in rates, and it also paid the highest share in terms of taxes to national government, councillors said.
“We are not getting our fair share (back),” Cllr John Joe Culloty ( FF) said. He urged Kerry TDs to work as hard as they could “and make as much noise as they can” to get roads funding.
The Farranfore bypass was unveiled in 2004 and was to have been completed by 2009; and the link road to Muckross was also to have been undertaken, Cllr Michael Gleeson recalled. But the economic crash had occurred and the Killarney projects sidelined.
However when the Red Cow in Dublin and other Dublin projects needed funding to ease their traffic congestion, “there was no problem”, Mr Gleeson said.
Killarney town manager, Angela McAllen said Killarney traffic was discussed at every single meeting and was a top priority for management.
The council was improving walkways and cycleways and to make it safer for pedestrians.