Loop the loop

 

A network of local businesses and individuals on the Loop Head peninsula have shown what can be achieved through hard work, co-operation and niche marketing when nature is on your side. Three years ago, the area won an Eden award, recognising sustainable tourism in Europe. This week, it was chosen out of 1,400 entries as the “Best place to holiday in Ireland” in an Irish Times competition. The natural amenities of the coastline from Kilkee to Loop Head lighthouse are being harnessed to fight depopulation and develop innovative, sustainable tourism. Way to go!

Home holidays are a vital element in the tourism market. Their importance was illustrated by the huge number of competition entries received from all parts of the country. Dublin and other cities attract the bulk of foreign visitors, but Irish people look for intimate, lesser-known places. Domestic holidays trend towards short, three-day breaks. They contribute greatly to hotels and self-catering establishments and generate more than €1 billion in revenues. These breaks are particularly suited to coastal destinations that offer a variety of accommodation and food offerings, along with aquatic, cycling and walking activities.

Loop Head Tourism business network has been at the forefront of recent developments. A motorway connection to Ennis has made access quicker and easier. But sustainable tourism remains the objective. Coach tours and buses may stop at Kilkee, a popular holiday resort since Victorian times. But the plan is to introduce visitors to the delights of the peninsula through local guides in small minibuses. Offering a special experience, or a package of popular, tried-and-tested activities, will encourage repeat visits. Up the coast in Co Mayo, the Greenway cycle track on the disused Westport-Achill rail line has been a great success. The landscape, in all its manifestations, is our best asset. Introducing people to it through sustainable tourism is the way forward.