Tourism Collaboration in Donegal

Collaboration was the theme of the recent Donegal Tourism seminar held on 1st May at the Waterfront Hotel in Dungloe, Co. Donegal. Cllr Seamus O’Domhnaill, Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council set the tone in his opening comments about working together, not competing.

The first speaker was Joy Harron, Marine Tourism Officer for Donegal County Council who launched the ISLE Tourism Project. The project, which is funded by CEDRA, aims to look at the impacts on increasing tourism numbers to islands and to develop sustainable tourism and ensure protection of our unique island and coastal species and habitats. I know first hand of the tourism benefits on Tory Island, my father’s birthplace. In the past year alone, the island has become more accessible by the Queen of Aran ferry and local businesses welcome the footfall that it brings.

Celebrity Chef and all-round Donegal ambassador Brian Mc Dermott of the Foyle Hotel in Moville emphasised his belief that “It’s Donegal’s time”, with his infectious optimism. He complimented the people of Donegal for their honesty and unique story telling ability and urged attendees to embrace the platforms that can communicate their stories. Social media expert, Aoife Mc Crum of Soolnua, reiterated this advice with useful tips on using social media effectively.

Award-winning travel writer Pól Ó Conghaile was guest speaker at the event. He spoke about capitalising on sustainable tourism, explaining how cities like Venice and Barcelona are overcrowded and locals no longer welcome tourists. He explained the concept of the ‘Return of the Local Hero’, whereby the ordinary people of Donegal welcome and advise visitors.

Mark Richardson gave an account of how frightening technology will be in the next 5-10 years and its possible impacts on tourism. He urged us not to lose our “Céad Míle Fáilte” by going for the electronic approach opposed to the emotional connectivity of our national greeting. Mark concluded with the collaborating message again, explaining that ‘Together Everyone Achieves More’ – TEAM.

Barney McLaughlin, Head of Tourism for Donegal County Council launched a new and improved county tourism website www.GoVisitDonegal.com at the seminar and encouraged the members to manage and update their own profiles on it. The website showcases all that County Donegal has to offer to potential visitors before they leave home.

The event was the first major seminar that I attended since setting up my own business, Donegal Tour Guide. It was a great networking opportunity with such a wide range of tourism and hospitality providers from all over Donegal under the one roof. My whole ethos is working in collaboration and it brings me great satisfaction to share our top amenities and attractions with clients on my tours. I am currently in the process of creating 3 and 4 day Donegal vacation packages and would be delighted to hear from accommodation and attractions interested in collaborating to create a top class visitor experience in County Donegal. Drop me a line on info@donegaltourguide.ie.

Wishing everyone the best for the 2019 season and beyond. – Henry

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