Food and festivals to lure visitors to Leeside

The Irish Examiner

By Eoin English

AN AMBITIOUS tourism strategy will use Cork’s renowned food culture and its 23 annual festivals to tempt an extra one million visitors to Leeside.

Some of the city’s top restaurateurs served up a mouth-watering range of local culinary delights in City Hall last night as the city council launched its dedicated tourism unit which hopes to generate an additional €120 million in tourism revenue a year.

The Tourism, Events, Arts and Marketing (TEAM) unit’s multi-million euro tourism drive will be one of the single biggest direct tourism campaigns ever undertaken by the city — and it is going global.

TEAM, which is now fully responsible for leading the national and international promotion and marketing of the city, is headed by Valerie O’Sullivan, the city council’s director of corporate affairs.

She said the city’s food culture and its diverse range of festivals — more than any other Irish city — are just two elements of what will be a multi-faceted and fully coordinated approach to promoting the city as a city-break and tourist destination.

“We want to shake things up, do things a little bit differently,” she said. “We want to reflect the unique energy and vibrancy of Cork city into an equally energetic and vibrant marketing drive that will get people to sit up and appreciate this magnificent city.

“2011 will be about finding our voice, our message and shouting this from the rooftops.”

TEAM has already identified several short-term projects to enhance the city’s visitor experience, including:

* The establishment of a fully Wi-Fi enabled city centre.

* The roll-out of tourist-friendly directional street signs.

* The installation of on-street information panels with city and area maps including visitor information.

But it also plans to set up expert groups drawn from the city’s hotel, retail, restaurant, media and IT sectors to discuss ways the city can develop and improve its tourism offering.

TEAM will target the domestic market, as well as the British, French and German markets in the short-term.

But Cork’s twin and partner city relationships with Shanghai, Cologne, Rennes, San Francisco, Swansea and Coventry will be tapped in the longer-term to capitalise on the city’s Lonely Planet ‘Top 10 Cities in the World’ designation, and on the opportunities presented by the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Leeside on May 20.

Lord mayor of Cork, Cllr Michael O’Connell, called on every citizen to play their part in realising the “city’s vision for tourism”.

“It’s by no means complete without the critical support and participation of local businesses, tourism partners and the people of Cork who we call on today to help us shape a unique and compelling tourism campaign for Cork city that will put us on the map and promote this city as the number one must-visit city for domestic and international visitors,” he said.

“Collaboration and cross team partnerships will form the bedrock for TEAM’s way of working and success and we need everyone’s help to make it a success.”

City manager Tim Lucey said tourism, which has been identified as a “major economic driver” to help the nation recover from the economic collapse, “needs to be a key focus of our city and people”.

“Tourism plays a huge role in Cork city’s economy and is worth €317m, supporting 2,325 full time equivalent jobs a year,” Mr Lucey said.

“In order to grow this, Cork City Council’s overarching ambition is to galvanise the city’s resources and partners to help shape an ambitious and progressive tourism drive with clear areas of focus over the next five years.”

Guests at last night’s launch, including the British Ambassador to Ireland, Julian King, sampled poached mutton with caper sauce from the Farmgate, smoked salmon fishcake with salsa verde, from Jacques, Kanturk black pudding on Tipperary apple crisp with an edible lavender flower and local rhubarb, from Nash 19, salted rolled mackerel served with potato rosette and a shot of gooseberry cordial from Augustine’s and chilled gazpacho with pickle cucumber, lemon creme fresh and a parmesan stick, from Les Gourmandises.

The treats were washed down with Rebel Red and Blarney Blonde from the Franciscan Well.

Cork tourism value for money

* A study in 2004 by Dr Richard Moloney, of UCC’s Centre for Policy Studies, showed tourism plays a huge role in Cork city’s economy. The report shows tourism is worth €317 million to the city, supporting 2,325 full-time equivalent jobs, and is worth a further €87.3m to the city’s hinterland, supporting 639 full-time equivalent jobs.

* The city’s arts industry is valued at €207.5m, supporting 1,050 full-time equivalent jobs.

* 23 annual festivals generate annual income of €16.2m, supporting 102 full-time equivalent jobs while galleries and studios generate a further €12m to the city.

* Fáilte Ireland research shows 61% of people visiting the region are here on holiday, with 11% on a business trip.

* Britain and mainland Europe are hugely influential markets to tap into with 84% of all visitors coming from there.

* Transatlantic visitors account for 16% of all visitors to the south-west and this is expected to grow as markets recover.

* UCC commissioned to conduct a new study on tourism and its importance to the city.

Read more: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/food-and-festivals-to-lure-visitors-to-leeside-153434.html#ixzz1R92k7xoa

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