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Six-year blueprint for city tourism

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A six-year blueprint for tourism has recommended a master brand be created for the whole of Galway to help it capitalise on its status as the only city on the entire Wild Atlantic Way.

The Tourism Sustainability Strategy 2015-2021 has outlined the need to help the sector develop new products to enhance the tourist experience and extend the tourist season.

It also has recommended there be “continuous innovation” for festival formats, themes and focus to further develop Galway’s reputation as the capital of festivals.

The Tourism Sustainability Strategy relies heavily on a study carried out by the Whitaker Institute in NUIG commissioned by Galway City and County Councils into the industry.

The study highlighted some key facts about the region. One sixth of domestic trips were to the West of Ireland with an average length of stay by Irish residents of 3.3 nights, which is the second longest after the south west; an average of €317 is generated per visitor to the West, the third highest revenue in the State.

Galway accounted for nearly 16% of total overseas visitors to Ireland last year, with Galway’s inbound overseas visitors increasing at a higher rate than nationally between 2013 and 2014.

The research found that €148 million was generated in Galway from domestic tourists in 2013. The revenue from overseas visitors was €253 million in 2012.

The specific actions contained in the plan include establishing a destination management organisation for Galway city and county, similar to the one set up in the Titanic Quarter in Belfast, which is now the second most visited tourist attraction on the island. Another is to create a Wild Atlantic Way Action plan, given that Galway City is the only city location on the Wild Atlantic Way, as well as being a key mid-point on the route.

“This gives Galway City the competitive advantage to become the key hub of the WAW for transport, accommodation and other resources.”

Among the priorities set out in the plan is the creation of cultural trails using the region’s cultural assets, such as heritage sites. The trails could be combined with the food, creative and agricultural sectors to create unique and authentic experiences for domestic and overseas tourists.

“Marketing and branding of Galway in a systematic way through traditional and new media is essential to supporting the sector in national and international markets. This could be done through a master brand for Galway,” the plan states.

The strategy underlines the need to refine the Galway tourist experience with changes to the profile of tourists, their demands, preferences and lengths of stay.

The Galway tourist profile has been broken down to three groups. Culturally Curious are typically 55 years old, taking a holiday with their partner and out to broaden their minds by exploring new landscapes, history and culture; Great Escapers tend to be around 30, often couples, some with young children, interested in rural holidays who want a break to reconnect with their partner and nature; Social Energisers are young couples and adult groups looking for excitement, new experiences, and a fun, social holiday somewhere different.

The strategy was adopted by councillors at a meeting of Galway City Council.

CITY TRIBUNE

GAA club’s tournament honours stalwart who died at just 28

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Pictured at the launch of the Darragh Frain Memorial Tournament which takes place in Mervue this Saturday. Back: Kevin Curran, Kevin Barrett, Robert Fitzgerald, Aidan Brady, Alan O'Donnell, Donal Murphy, Eanna O'Connell, Eoghan Frain, David Henry. Front: Aodhain Ó Conghaile, Liam O'Donnell, Rory Murphy, Fionn Fitzgerald and Michael Barrett.

The untimely passing of a city GAA stalwart six years ago is still deeply felt by the club he represented but he remains an inspiration to young up-and-coming footballers who will be displaying their skills this weekend.

The Darragh Frain Memorial Tournament for under-age teams will take place in St James’ GAA grounds at Mervue tomorrow, Saturday, when many memories of a great young clubman will be exchanged.

Darragh, from Lurgan Park in Renmore, was just 28 years of age when he lost his battle with cancer in 2016. Since then his beloved club has been organising a tournament for young footballers that’s proving immensely popular.

For tomorrow’s event, the St James club will entertain local teams including St Michael’s, Salthill-Knocknacarra, Killanin and an Cheathrú Rua, as well as Kiltane (Bangor Erris) and Elphin-Ballinameen from North Roscommon.

It is a nine-a-side tournament, which takes place from 11am to 5pm, and will involve Under-11 teams who will compete against each other during the day.

The fact that Darragh’s late father, Tom Frain Senior, hailed from Roscommon means that GAA support for the event is coming from both counties – this makes it extra special, as well as adding to the profile of the tournament.

Best friend and one of the event’s main organisers, another St James stalwart David Henry explained that this was the sixth year of the tournament and that Darragh would be very pleased that his name was being associated with the development of under-age football.

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Too many cafés’ as city retail continues to decline

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Barber Tom Nally outside his premises.

The changing face of Galway city centre is a source of concern to those who say it reflects a decline for people in terms of retail choices.

Those who regret the loss of several long-standing family-run operations in the city in recent years don’t believe that what has replaced them has enhanced the appearance of Shop Street, in particular.

“We are looking at a proliferation of coffee shops, bookies and mobile phone outlets in their place,” observed long-standing city centre businessman Tom Nally.

Cllr Niall McNelis agreed there were far too many coffee shops in the city centre and believed that anything that has been zoned retail by the Council should remain retail.

The Labour Councillor said a proper retail strategy needed to be adopted and some of the ‘big-name brands’ needed to be encouraged into the centre of Galway to lure shoppers into town.

Meanwhile, popular barber Tom Nally regretted the number of family operations that have ceased trading in the recent past.

“It is sad to see the long-established family businesses in the city centre going and it would be great to say that what is replacing them will enhance our streets . . . but unfortunately this is not the case,” he added.

Mr Nally who has been operating out of his High Street premises for almost 50 years, said the number of unoccupied premises in an around the city centre was a new phenomenon.

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

State cracks down on quick-buck landlords

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New measures to clamp down on illegal short-term lets in the city will kick in next month, in an attempt to tackle mounting pressure on the rental market.

From September 1, sites such as Airbnb and Booking.com will no longer be allowed to advertise short-term rentals if the correct planning permission is not in place.

The measure seeks to strengthen laws introduced in 2019 which state that the use of a property for short-term letting for longer than 90 days in a rent-pressure zone requires permission from the local authority.

City Councillor Niall Murphy (Green) said the move follows on from an objection he lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI).

“The ASAI said it couldn’t be expected to police these ads so the websites like Airbnb were off the hook. But after September, they will have to ensure that those advertising on their sites have planning permission,” he said.

The proliferation of short-term lets in the city has been a contentious issue for a number of years, with scores of holiday leases available at the same time as city residents are battling it out for an extremely limited number of rental properties.

This week, almost 400 short-term lets were available on the leading website, Airbnb, while just 19 homes were up for rent on Daft.ie.

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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