One of the county’s most progressive towns has been honoured for its enterprising initiatives – many of them in the tourism sector….despite the fact that it is still recovering from the loss of its only hotel.
But it is a mark of the drive behind Portumna that it managed to commercially survive without the facility – particularly given that it depends so heavily on tourism.
The town’s only hotel burned down in 2011 – but adversity seemed to create something of a new enthusiasm amongst the local business community.
Paul Dillon, President of Portumna Chamber of Commerce, told The Connacht Tribune that they could not lie down in the face of the potential of losing tourist business.
He said that they just had to pick themselves up and continue on and now the town has more than 1,000 people working there in various industries and capacities.
“Let no one tell you that it is easy,” admitted the Chamber President, as he received the award as Galway’s most Enterprising Town. “It is just a fantastic achievement in view of all that has happened”.
But Mr Dillon, who has been in regular contact with the new owners of the Shannon Oaks Hotel, says that its redevelopment would have the potential to create a further 400 to 500 jobs in the town.
“The situation is that we are a tourist town that is operating without a hotel and we are doing enough to survive in the circumstances. We are providing the best facilities for visiting tourists and there is nothing that can knock that.
“Of course, the reopening and development of a new hotel in the town would be massive and it is something that the Chamber is constantly keeping an eye on. It has the potential to increase employment by 50%,” Mr Dillon added.
Following a Portumna Chamber of Commerce initiative, Portumna was announced as Galway’s most Enterprising Town and was a second runner up in the Connacht/Ulster Regional Category at the Bank of Ireland Enterprising Town Awards held in the Tullamore Court Hotel.
The Enterprising Town programme promotes partnership between business groups, chambers of commerce, local government and community groups to plan and deliver a range of activities that will support and generate business.
The judges appraised the attractiveness of Portumna’s public realm areas, business premises, signage, parking and accessibility.
“It is a credit to Portumna and the great work that is done in conjunction with Galway County Council, Galway Rural Development and many more agencies that so impress with Portumna year in and year out.
“This is a fantastic accolade for the town and area and illustrates what can be achieved when business and community collaborate,” Paul Dillon added.
Meanwhile, Portumna is hosting the Bank of Ireland Enterprise Town event in Portumna Community School on Saturday, December 2, during which businesses from Portumna and the area will display what the area has to offer.
Mr Dillon describes it as a fantastic event for the community to recognise as to what is in the area while the event this year will also see the annual switch-on of the Christmas lights by Santa.