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Tourism boom as Galway visitor numbers up 10%

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Galway has enjoyed a tourism boom this Summer, with the number of visitors to the city and county up around 10% on 2013.

And last year itself was a particularly strong-performing year for the hospitality sector here, with thousands of extra tourists flocking to Galway for events organised for The Gathering.

Events such as the Film Fleadh and Galway Races, as well as the sell-out Galway International Arts Festival are continuing to act as the biggest revenue-generators here.

The Wild Atlantic Way – 2,500 kilometres covering nine counties and more than 1,500 activities – is also proving a major visitor attraction, with the majority of tourists coming from continental Europe.

Official figures from the Central Statistics Office for the first six months of the year show visitor numbers are up 10.3%, while local hoteliers are reporting an increase in occupancy of around 8%.

Michael Fitzsimons of Fáilte Ireland Galway said the organisation is “very happy” with the increase in visitors. “It’s a really good position to be in, but we can not be complacent. Early indications for August and September are very healthy. Figures are well up, so we’re very happy.

“The hotels reported a strong summer with occupancy up around 8%; August and September are looking very strong too. Overseas up and the weather is helping domestic figures too.

“We knew we were going to be growing, but we still have plenty more room to grow, and there will be a lot of progress for the Wild Atlantic Way in 2014/15, so we’re hoping that will increase figures,” he told the Connacht Tribune.

The CSO six-month figures show a 10.3% increase in overall trips to Ireland; visits from mainland Europe are up 6%; North American visitors are up 10.6%; UK visitors are up 13.6%.

Visits from the rest of the world – mostly long-haul flights and developing markets – were up 13.6%. Domestic trips by Irish residents were up 8%.

Read more on this story in this week’s Connacht Tribune

CITY TRIBUNE

Woman sustains serious injuries after being struck by firework in Eyre Square

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Gardaí are appealing for witnesses after a young woman was struck in the face by a firework in Eyre Square in the city overnight.

It happened shortly after midnight and gardai say it’s understood the firework had been launched from close to the Tourist Information Kiosk.

The young woman suffered serious injuries and was hospitalised as a result.

Gardaí understand there was a large group of people in Eyre Square at the time and are now asking that any person who may have witnessed the incident make contact with the investigating team.

In particular Gardaí are appealing to anyone who may have video footage of the incident, either on mobile phone, CCTV or dash-cam to make contact with them.

This incident comes just days after a policing committee meeting was told of increasing concern about anti social behaviour around Eyre Square.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Garda chief suggests closing Eyre Square to curb anti-social behaviour

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Closing Eyre Square at night-time was among the radical suggestions put forward by Galway’s top Garda this week – in response to claims that the city centre’s famous landmark had become a ‘no-go area’ after dark.

It comes as Gardaí confirmed that since January they issued almost 500 fines for breaches of the city’s alcohol bylaws, which prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public spaces.

Responding to claims that people were afraid to visit parts of the city centre at night due to anti-social behaviour, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that the authorities might have to look at closing Eyre Square at certain times.

Chief Supt Curley also said that improved lighting and better CCTV were other tools that could be used to deter anti-social behaviour and to detect crime in the city centre.

“I’d need another five officers in there – and I haven’t got them,” said Chief Supt Curley of the requirement for more Gardaí on patrol in Eyre Square.

He was responding to a charge by former mayor of Galway, Councillor Frank Fahy, who said Eyre Square was dangerous at night. “It’s a no-go area,” he said at a City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting this week.

Cllr Fahy said that the illegal activity and anti-social behaviour in the city centre was a product of the Covid-19 pandemic and people socialising outdoors. Eyre Square was safe pre-Covid, he said.

In a written reply to the JPC, Chief Supt Curley said that anti-social behaviour issues had been ‘de-escalated’ along the city’s canals, Woodquay and Spanish Arch ‘as a result of extra Garda patrols’.

“The resulting consequences have led to crowd movement from these areas (and they) are now congregating at Eyre Square. Garda attention is concentrated on Eyre Square, however the return of students and the continued restrictions has led to increased numbers,” he said.

(Photo: a scene from Eyre Square at night this week taken from a video circulated on social media)

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

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CITY TRIBUNE

Tourists duped in Galway City rental accommodation scam

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have issued another ‘beware’ warning in relation to scammers offering fictitious properties to rent in the city area.

The advice comes after a report of a several separate tourists from overseas calling to a house in Shantalla over recent weeks, thinking that they had booked rental accommodation.

It is understood that the fake rental offer had been made through a booking website, but it turned out to be a scam with the tourists having ‘parted’ weeks earlier with a deposit of several hundred euro.

Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that such rental scams were an ongoing reality in relation to the accommodation sector, especially in cities like Galway with huge rental markets for long-term and short-term lets.

He said that the first pieces of advice for anyone seeking to rent a property was to only do business with an established bona-fide rental agency and to always meet the prospective landlord in the accommodation to be rented.

Sgt Walsh said that the scammers also tended to be more active at times of the year when accommodation was in major demand as in the late-Summer/early-Autumn period as students returned to third level colleges.

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

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