Bringing Burren tourism techniques to the world

Tina O’Dwyer

Over the past decade, the North Clare tourism sector has been at the cutting edge of new developments in Irish tourism. Businesses have come together to plan collectively and embraced some of the developing trends in tourism, especially around sustainable development.

Organisations such as the Burren EcoTourism Network have become blueprints for how best to manage tourism in local communities. 

Kilshanny woman Tina O’Dwyer is hoping to bring the spirit of the Burren to a national and international audience through her new company, The Tourism Space. 

The Tourism Space is designed to be an online training and guidance resource for people working in tourism but it will also host its first live event later this week.

“It is designed to really deliver skills, professional development and motivational support to people working on the ground in the industry. It is not about repeating what is already being done by other agencies, I want to give support to individual businesses and how they operate on a day to day basis,” she said.

“A lot of tourism businesses are small operators, maybe one or two people. So this is also about creating a community of people who can support each other.

“Clare has really taken a lead on tourism cooperation over the last few years. The Burren EcoTourism Network working with the Burren and Cliffs of Moher GeoPark, which I was involved in, is where I learned to appreciate what can be achieved as a group. Loop Head tourism has been very active in this respect as well and all of these groups have gain national prominence by working together.”

The Tourism Space LIVE will take place on January 17 at Thomond Park in Limerick. It aims to address challenges to the hospitality industry including recruitment, retention and dealing with millennials, planning for growth and digitalisation.

The Tourism Space LIVE will include a host of Clare experts, including hotelier John Burke.

“I have been inspired on a daily basis by the people working in tourism in Clare. I wanted to create an event that celebrates that and also create and environment where people can share that with each other,” she said.

“I didn’t want a room full of overseas speakers. Every speaker who is taking part is Irish-based, they all run their own business, they are all at the coal face and have achieved in tourism.

“Our opening speakers are all from Clare and that is quite deliberate. We have Nuala Mulqueeney from the Aillwee Cave, an incredible story over the past 40 years. Eugene Garrihy from Doolin Ferries will speak, as will John Burke.”

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