Over 70% of Ireland’s native flora with unusual combination of Artic, Alpine and Mediterranean plants
Highest concentration of archaeological monuments from Bronze Age and Early Christian Period in Ireland
Strong cultural identity; Place, farming traditions, music, literature & art
Caters for specialist interests
Necklace of villages with services
Reasonably easy to get to
Attractions in the Burren
11 Visitor Centres
Burren National Park
9 Burren Information Points
2 Educational Centres
A network of walking trails
A network of National Monuments
Viewing points and car parks
Need for co-ordinated sustainable economic development and tourism management
Historical uneasy relationship between State and locals
Lack of investment in National Park
Cliffs of Moher attracts c. 900,000 p.a. mostly day visitors
Access to landscape: landowners concerns and visitor expectations
“ If we are to develop a sustainable form of tourism in the Burren, we must recognise and harmonise the needs of the three components in the tourism triangle – the visitor, the host community and the host environment. Tourism must not be allowed to damage the environmental resource, prejudice its future enjoyment or use or bring unacceptable environmental impacts. Equally, tourism must be developed as a positive activity with potential to benefit the host community and the place, as well as the visitor”. The Burren: Alternatives to the Mullaghmore Visitor Centre – A proposal produced by a Burren Community Group, 1992.
“ tourism and environmental interests can be aligned, so that tourism aids and reinforces conservation in order to ensure its own long term economic future. ” Brady Shipman Martin – Tourism in the Burren, A Strategic Plan , 1994
Title of Presentation 21.02.2008 www.burrenconnect.ie
Aim: To develop a network of certified ecotourism businesses in the Burren and promote the Burren as an accredited ecotourism destination
Development of a self sustaining ecotourism network of accredited Burren businesses with a Burren ecotourism brand
Promotion of the Burren as an accredited ecotourism destination from April 2010 Seeking to follow international ecotourism best practice: eg: Australia, Costa Rica, Norway, Sweden, Estonia.
Providing continued training, mentoring and accreditation in ecotourism for businesses interested in joining the network.
What is Ecotourism?
Ecotourism is an activity, a philosophy and a model of development that unites conservation, communities and sustainable travel to minimise environmental impact, to provide positive experiences for visitors and host community and to provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines ecotourism as:
Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people .
Support for Ecotourism
Programme for Government 2007-2012 , the Government stated that it will “Seek, with the Tourism Agencies and Local Authorities, suitable areas to develop and promote eco tourism”.
The 2009 Economic Renewal Framework stated that “We will develop a nationwide strategy for eco-tourism and associated marketing campaign”.
In 2007, Failte Ireland committed to undertake research into the potential of the ecotourism market for Ireland, to provide appropriate support for the development of ecotourism in Ireland and to promote standards for ecotourism, and to establish ecotourism networks ( Environmental Action Plan 2007-2009 ).
Both the upcoming Clare County Development Plan and Shannon Development’s strategic development policy support the development of ecotourism in the Burren.
2007 Burren Connect Project survey: 97% of accommodation providers and 80% of visitor centre managers believed that the Burren should be developed and promoted as an ecotourism location.
Failte Ireland chose the Burren for the first national ecotourism pilot programme
Failte Ireland’s evolving policy on Natural Heritage
Integrating priorities with regard to the natural heritage into its existing programmes of tourism support and development activity, where relevant – e.g. product development work in relation to walking, cycling, adventure, touring routes, etc.
Highlighting natural heritage for Irish and overseas visitors through marketing communications (including a visible web presence). Access a wide range of information on the natural heritage, green and eco-tourism, through the discoverireland site, and through other communication channels such as print and publicity.
Establishing a validation process for external eco-labels and eco-certification programmes, which will articulate what standards FI requires in order to promote businesses and destinations as environmentally sustainable and/or providing authentic ecotourism experiences.
Integrating principles of environmental sustainability and awareness of natural heritage into the mainstream educational and mentoring programmes within FI, and continuing to establish and promote good environmental practice within the industry.
Fáilte Ireland Exploring the attitudes of holidaymakers towards landscape and natural environment W5 Sept. 2009
7092 holidaymakers interviewed across seven countries – Ireland, GB, France, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark and USA
Nationally representative sample (age/gender/region) in each country
All holidaymakers must have said they would consider Ireland as a destination
70% were aware of at least one of the terms ‘green tourism’ ‘ eco tourism’ ‘sustainable tourism’
15% had engaged in some type of eco tourism
20% would pay more for green tourism alternatives
Are holidaymakers willing to pay more for green alternatives?
Overall about 1 in 5 holidaymakers (20%) are willing to pay more for green alternatives, rising to 26% of those who are most likely to consider Ireland as a destination and almost 40% of those who have engaged in eco tourism in the past. Dutch holidaymakers are the least likely to say they will pay more.
Who are those who are willing to pay more?
More likely to be…
Between 25 and 34 yrs
More widely travelled
Take locally guided tours
Seek accommodation set in the countryside
Think of landscape in terms of quiet, natural and undeveloped places
Enjoy visiting forests, wildlife watching, taking excursions focusing on
Be heavier uses of information, particularly guidebooks
Seek advice from local people when at the destination
What motivates those who are willing to pay more? Willing to pay more All Concern about my own health Concern for children / future generations Desire to preserve environment Base: x Base: 7092 Sense of wellbeing by doing good for environment Desire to learn more about environment / regions The environment does not impact on my decision Those who are willing to pay more are very much motivated by the desire to preserve the environment, rather than any motivation relating to themselves. % of respondents stating they would consider green alternatives for a particular reason
In what order is this segment likely to pay more for green alternatives? Food (where wellness, quality of life & local produce is at the centre) Tours (local and small scale tours exploring hidden places) Active pursuits (e.g. hill walking, cycling, canoeing which includes interaction with and interpretation of the natural surroundings) Family activity break (based in natural surroundings where the focus is on interaction with the natural surroundings) Natural therapy / spa break (relaxing with nature rather than standard spa / hotel based) Craft / arts break (based in natural surroundings) 2 Base: 7092 1 2 3 4 5 6 Amongst those most likely to travel here accommodation takes the top position 2 Accommodation (nature based accommodation rather than standard types (including alternative accommodation types set in woodland / countryside, availing of local produce etc) For those who are willing to pay more it is food that tops the list, followed by tours and accommodation.
How do holidaymakers seek information about the environment when they are at their destination Base: 7092 Those engaging in green activities are more likely to seek information from guidebooks and newspapers/magazines Guidebooks and word of mouth continue to have an important role at the destination, particularly in seeking information about the environment with information where holidaymakers are staying being particularly widely used. % of respondents who mention each source
While differences exist, we see more similarities across markets as far as general decision making is concerned. Cost / value for money is particularly important, weather and the culture of the country in question also coming out strongly.
We see more variation in relation to the importance of landscape, possibly linked to the range of ways in which individuals define landscape in their own minds.
It is in relation to information seeking behaviour once holidaymakers get to the destination that we see the importance of local information provision and local advice in the place where holidaymakers are staying.
This points to the need to have a range of information sources available at source, coupled with the need for accommodation providers to be very well informed ‘ambassadors’ for their local region.
Across holidaymakers there appears to be a preference for less ‘organised’ or group travelling. Local tours however appear to be the exception, perhaps meeting the requirements of staying independent but getting the best out of where you are along the way. This may also be of particular relevance when we think how eco tourism providers position themselves.
General holidaymaker preferences and planning - highlights
How do holidaymakers like to enjoy the environment? Base: 7092 Just 6% of holidaymakers think of national parks when they consider Ireland’s landscape and environment, just 24% thinking of rural villages Key activities for those engaging in eco tourism Just 1 in 3 holidaymakers saying they like to enjoy the environment through active pursuits % of respondents stating they like to enjoy the environment in each way
Active pursuits engaged in by holidaymakers Base: 7092 Shorter walks are the most popular active pursuit amongst holidaymakers, followed by cycling. % of respondents stating they like to engage in each type of pursuit Popular amongst the Dutch and German, rising to 79% Popular amongst the US, French, Danish and Irish Highest amongst French holidaymakers Highest among US, GB and Irish holidaymakers
Proportion of holidaymakers who have engaged in eco/green activities Base: 7092 Denmark is the country, along with the Netherlands where we see the fewest holidaymakers who have engaged in eco / green tourism, at 8% and 7% respectively. This is in contrast to the USA, where 1 in 4 holidaymakers state they had engaged in eco / green tourism. % of respondents who said they have already engaged in eco/green activities
What can we say about those who have engaged in eco tourism?
More likely to:
Live in cities
Consider Ireland for a holiday in the future
Be heavier users of information sources before deciding on a destination, particularly guidebooks
Seek information about what to do in the environment from locals when on holiday
Be motivated by the fact that they are preserving the environment
Believe accreditation is very important
Take excursions focusing on nature and wildlife
Engage in active pursuits, particularly long distance walking
Want to feel like they are somewhere remote
More likely to consider engaging in eco tourism options in the future, particularly staying in green accommodation and engaging in educational activities
Pay more to engage in eco tourism (twice as likely)
Working together – success factor for eco tourism providers
Shared understanding of what the network of providers need
Integrated regional approach (from the perspectives of both providers and consumers)
Commitment of private companies, public bodies, Govt departments, organisations and individuals involved to work together as a group e.g. extended national park zoning (area specific)
Supporting infrastructure, e.g. accommodation
Long term commitment
New thinking – how can we innovate?
A shared understanding of how to reach out to potential visitors (given negative reaction towards existing ‘mass advertising’ approaches)
To avoid green-washing and achieve authenticity
To set and maintain standards of excellence
To provide training and mentoring
To meet market expectations:
Where accreditation is concerned, those who have an interest in eco tourism award it the greatest importance
Failte Ireland research 2009 on exploring the attitudes of holidaymakers towards landscape and natural environment
The Greenbox is Ireland's first integrated ecotourism destination. The area of the Greenbox includes Counties Fermanagh, Leitrim, West Cavan, North Sligo, South Donegal and North West Monaghan.
Using a bottom up approach and by developing a tight network of businesses, it has become a leading example of ecotourism development and has gained international recognition for its work.
It has developed an accreditation system for ecotourism based on best practice in other countries for non accommodation and uses the EU Flower certification for accommodation.
It is seen as an incubator for ecotourism in Ireland and is sought after for advice and training by many organisations and individuals in the tourism industry.
Burren Ecotourism Programme
Set up Ecotourism Working Group in the Burren July 2008. Developed Vision Statement, Terms of Reference and Work Programme
13 Burren businesses achieved Certification in Ecotourism from Sligo IT and funded by Sustainable Tourism Skillnet in July 2009
Became a Failte Ireland Pilot Project to test the rollout of the Greenbox model for the accreditation of ecotourism destinations in Ireland
Greenbox carried out Audit of training needs/training & mentoring in July 2009
Greenbox began training programme in December 2009.
Aim for the accreditation of businesses by Autumn of 2010
What is the Burren ecotourism experience?
It has to be delivered in an environmentally friendly way (consider waste, water, energy usage)
It has to be based in nature and allow visitors to have a personal experience of nature
It has to involve education and interpretation of the environment
It has to promote local heritage and culture
It has to be marketed responsibly
It has to contribute to conservation
It has to directly benefit the local community
Environmentally sustainable practices
Nature management / Leave No Trace
Interpretation / education / conservation
Networking and experience development
Business and marketing planning
Members of the Burren Ecotourism Working Group: Businesses & Organisations
Boghill Centre, Kilfenora
Burren Beef and Lamb Producers Group
Burren Centre, Kilfenora
Burren Ecotourism Co-Op
Burren Fine Wine and Foods
Burren Outdoor Education Centre
Burren Painting Centre
Cassidy’s Pub & Restaurant, Carran
Clare’s Rock Hostel, Carran
Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience
Corofin Hostel & Camping
Doolin Activity Lodge
Doolin Language Centre
Gragan’s Castle Hotel
Farm Heritage Tours Co-Op
Fr. Ted’s Teas, Kilinaboy
Heart of Burren Walks
Roadside Tavern, Lisdoonvarna
Ballyvaughan Development Committee
Burren Connect Project
Carran Community Council
Clare Tourism Forum
Environmental Officer, Clare County Council
Heritage Officer, Clare County Council
Leader – Clare Local Development Company
National Monuments Service
National Parks & Wildlife Service
Mix of business, not for profit
organisations and community groups.
A Burren Ecotourism Package
Accommodation and main meals: Gregans Castle Hotel
A 2 day package that includes accommodation and main meals at Gregans Castle Hotel, a guided walk in the Burren, a visit to a specialist Burren garden, bird watching at the Cliffs of Moher, a tour of Burren Smokehouse and tasting local produce in the Roadside Tavern. Limited to 14 people, available on set dates. Focus on local food and products.
A Burren Ecotourism Package
A 2 day package that includes
accommodation and main meals at Gregans Castle Hotel,
a guided walk in the Burren,
a visit to a specialist Burren garden,
bird watching at the Cliffs of Moher
a tour of Burren Smokehouse and
tasting local produce in the Roadside Tavern.
Limited to 14 people, available on set
Focus on local environment, culture, food and products.
A Burren Ecotourism Package
A 2 day package that includes:
Accommodation at Clare’s Rock Hostel
Local farm produced food and traditional music entertainment at Cassidy’s Bar & Restaurant
Eco-activities at the Burren Outdoor Education Centre (kayaking, caving, rock climbing)
A Farm visit showing local culture, farming traditions, folklore, botany, archaeology and geology, guided by the local farmer
Long Term Vision
A recognisable network of enterprises in the Burren, all of whom:
Have achieved independent accreditation
Demonstrate ecotourism ‘best practice’
Positively discriminate in each other’s favour
Provide ‘one voice’ representation on issues impacting the Burren
Inspire, lead and motivate conservation activism
Support training and provide mentoring for other enterprises working towards accreditation
They will be a self sustaining network of informed, well trained and committed businesses who will be ambassadors for ecotourism in the Burren
They will mentor other businesses interested in joining the network. More businesses will lead to more influence on environmental policy and business development; they can change the nature of tourism in the Burren for the better.
Ecotourism trains the visitor also, will increase numbers of responsible tourists to the area
In achieving its vision the network will be making a vitally important contribution to the future management, conservation, understanding and appreciation of the Burren.
They will ‘link environment, community and tourism to conserve the Burren’
Title of Presentation 21.02.2008 www.burrenconnect.ie