The Offaly Tourism Strategy, which will guide Council direction in the sector through to 2027, was published recently. It is a comprehensive piece of work undertaken by CHL Consulting, under guidance of a collaboration of stakeholders on a Steering Group.
The strategy highlights what everyone in the county knows – our strength lies in our natural environment.
That hasn’t changed but many other things are changing in Offaly – last December we saw the last peat train delivery to Edenderry Power Station. What was, for decades, a vital part of our economy, is now part of our industrial heritage and Bord na Móna transition from Brown to Green is complete.
I can fully appreciate the need to honour this heritage and I welcome the inclusion of reference to it in Offaly’s Tourism Strategy with proposals for action that I fully support.
The strategy is a very ‘Green’ document – it recognises that for Tourism to have the regenerative, revitalising impact it is capable of it must balance the needs of local residents and the environment with the needs of businesses and visitors.
In fact this entire Strategy rests on connectivity and collaboration and I believe we can deliver on both. I will continue to work towards this and to support the actions listed as strategic priorities in the back of the document. Proposals are included for every town in the County.
The purpose of the Tourism Strategy is to ‘develop a strong base for future growth’.
And this is where the Failte Ireland’s Regenerative Tourism and Placemaking Scheme is so important. Through a number of funding programmes including the Investment Grant-Aid Scheme for Private & Community SMEs, tourism innovation in Offaly is being offered a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Tourism has been identified as a sector that can present new opportunities and new jobs. The strategy tells us that 1,000 overseas tourists supports 20 jobs.
But tourism is still a relatively underdeveloped sector which is why I welcome the recent recruitment of a new Tourism Activator for Offaly. Funded by Failte Ireland and placed within the Council’s tourism team, her role is to engage with individuals, communities and businesses who have new ideas or ideas for expansion into the regenerative tourism space and I look forward to meeting her soon.
I am not going to list all of the Offaly towns and projects that get a mention in the strategy for fear I would leave one out – I recommend that everyone with an interest in the future of Offaly reads this Strategy!
You can read the full strategy here: