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Connacht Tribune

East Galway to benefit from new tourism marketing effort

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All parts of County Galway will benefit from being part of a tourism strategy when a Wild Atlantic Way Region and a new marketing brand promoting the midlands will be launched in 2018.

The two new initiatives will provide a very tangible tourism boost to areas which claim to have been ignored by Fáilte Ireland, according to the outgoing head of the Wild Atlantic Way, Fiona Monaghan.

The midlands branding will aim to replicate the successes of the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East and Dublin: A Breath of Fresh Air.

The proposed brand, set to be unveiled by the end of next March, will run from east Galway to Westmeath and south from Cavan down to Killaloe in Co Clare.

“This will involve a significant investment in infrastructure, in marketing – initially targeting the home market before it’s extended internationally. There are recognised gaps in this area so there needs to be major investment with partners such as the local authorities, the OPW (Office of Public Works), the NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Service) with grant scheme for private businesses.”

The Wild Atlantic Way Region will be launched in early 2018 showcasing areas not physically on the 2,750km driving route to encourage visitors to go off the beaten path and explore.

“Businesses in this new region will carry a new logo, they will be offered all the support available to Wild Atlantic Way towns and villages and we will run workshops to give them to tools to make the most of the designation.

“The aim is that every county will be part of one of the four brands in some shape or form and nowhere gets left behind.”

The rewards could well prove lucrative, if the experience of the industry in 2017 is anything to go by.

While figures per region have not yet been broken down, Fáilte Ireland expects forecasts of a 4% increase in overseas tourists as well as domestic visitors in the west to be reached – and in some areas exceeded.

Nationally there was a jump of 16% in tourists from North America while the number of mainland Europeans increased by 4.5% to the end of October. British visitors were down by 6%.

“The North American market was especially strong for the west – as was the French and German market who are drawn to Galway and Connemara as they like that rugged coastline and the island. In fact, there was a big increase in interest in the island experience and Galway is lucky in that it has the Aran Islands and Inisbofin, both very different experiences,” explained Fiona.

The forecast for 2018 is for national growth of 3%, but some parts of the Wild Atlantic Way less trafficked will likely exceed that as demand further increases.

“We are spending a lot of time encouraging accommodation providers and attractions to stay open in the shoulder seasons. We are often surprised businesses don’t know how much it costs to put on the lights, keep staff on in order to break even and make a profit. Sometimes it’s a lot smaller than they think and they only close because it’s traditional to do so,” said the marketing executive.

“Clifden was traditionally a six-month destination – it’s become at least eight months; Dingle is now open ten months. You see in Clifden a big contingent decamping from Dublin to Clifden for the New Year for a family getaway since the recession.”

Fáilte Ireland plans to extend the loop of the Wild Atlantic Way to Loughrea, Gort, Craughwell and Oranmore in 2018.

After a long period of consultation with stakeholders, they will launch a visitor experience plan in early January giving out ideas for activities and trips within the region.

With the designation of European Region of Gastronomy 2018, Fáilte Ireland will be targeting overseas and local ‘foodies’, who tend to spend higher and stay longer.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that spending in Ireland by overseas visitors for the first nine months of the year rose by 5% compared with the corresponding period of 2016.

Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway

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The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Government asked to “do everything” to ensure Intel chooses Oranmore as base

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The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be asked to do “everything in their power” to ensure technology giant Intel selects Oranmore as the location for its new microchip manufacturing plant – which could create 10,000 jobs and transform the West of Ireland economy.

The 540-acre site is owned by the Defence Forces and was selected by IDA Ireland as the preferred site for the company’s new EU ‘chip’ base.

BY STEPHEN CORRIGAN
AND DARA BRADLEY

Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany and Intel confirmed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the site is under consideration.

Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said the development would be “transformative” and would be Intel’s largest microchip manufacturing plant in the world.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week, councillors backed a proposal from Cllr Liam Carroll to write to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to urge them to push forward the plan.

“This would be a game-changer, not just for Oranmore but for the whole of Connacht. Imagine 10,000 directly employed at some stage in the future, and the spinoff from that,” he said.

The Oranmore site is reported to have been selected ahead of three other locations in Ireland.

It is on Intel’s short-list for the proposed project, which would involve building eight factory modules on a single campus at the site off the M6 motorway, northeast of Oranmore, the newspaper reported.

The American multinational tech company has whittled down its short-list to 10 finalists; Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that if it proceeds, the new Oranmore ‘mega-fab’ would dwarf Intel’s existing site in Leixlip, which employs almost 5,000.

Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG) said: “It would put Galway on the map internationally as a place for high-tech investment and it would serve to rebalance the economic imbalance that exists in our country where all of the weight is on the east coast.

“The IDA has a formula where every one new job created in that industry creates about eight or nine more jobs downstream in terms of the supply chain and services. They’re saying 10,000 jobs on site – twice the population of Athenry – on one campus and then another 80-90,000 jobs off site. The figures are phenomenal, mind boggling,” said Deputy Cannon.

The demand for the facility arose during Covid-19 when the supply chain between Asia and Europe broke down.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Fraudsters ‘spoof’ Galway Garda Station’s phone number

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Fraudsters replicated the phone number of Galway Garda Station and used it to call a local woman to demand money.

Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that the number ‘091 538000’ was somehow used by criminals who attempted to extract money – in the form of the online currency Bitcoin – from the victim.   Despite the phone call appearing to come from the Garda station at Mill Street, the woman became suspicious and reported it to Gardaí.

Sgt Walsh said it was the latest in a series of ‘spoofing’ phone calls to have occurred this year.

Spoofing is where fraudsters change the caller ID to ring unsuspecting members of the public to try to extract money or personal information off them.

He said that the number of spoofing incidents reported to Galway Gardaí has more than doubled in the past year.

“It is top of my agenda,” he said.

He pointed out that criminals can obtain a ‘ready to go’ phone and SIM card, relatively cheaply, and it was “very difficult” for Gardaí to trace the caller.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more details on fraud figures in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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