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
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 .
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.
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)
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.
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’