BLARNEY could become Ireland’s biggest tourism hub if a permanent tourism office is opened in the village, a city councillor has claimed.
A motion will be brought before City Hall next month urging that the local authority seek funding from the Government for a year-round tourism office to be established to promote Blarney village as a package and a hub for tourists coming to Cork.
Blarney Castle was the 12th most visited fee-charging tourist attraction in the country in 2017 with 450,000 visitors but Councillor Ken O’Flynn (FF) believes Blarney has the potential to become a town to rival Killarney as a tourist destination in the south of Ireland.
Buses of tourists arrive in the village to kiss the Blarney Stone daily at the castle but many move on without staying overnight.
The village’s tourist office had to be closed after Blarney & District Chamber of Commerce found itself unable to meet running costs last year. The office has been run by volunteers for, supported by the Chamber, for six years after Bord Fáilte had cut funding.
Blarney recently became part of Cork city under a boundary extension and Councillor O’Flynn believes the city council needs to devise a plan to promote Blarney’s attractions and places to stay as a whole visitor experience.
“While local businesses do a fantastic job, the rest of the village really isn’t seeing the benefit of it,” Mr O’Flynn told The Echo.
“I believe that if we had a tourist office to attract people to Blarney and encourage them to stay in the village more rather than coming in on the tour bus, kissing the stone, buying a bit of crystal and then out again, it would help grow tourism.
“I want to see a full tourist office that will tell tourists what to do and see in the immediate area.
“There’s the Blarney walk all the way to Tower. There’s a tremendous amount of B&Bs, music at night in pubs and the local golf course. Yet there’s nobody promoting Blarney village as a package.
“Now that the city council have taken over the district of Blarney we need to be encouraging people to come in and spend more time in Cork and use the city centre aswell. There has been a total disconnect and Cork County Council ignored Blarney for far too long. Most of the money that went into tourism in the county went into Spike Island, which is a fantastic facility but Blarney has been neglected.
“It’s not up to the city council to realise what an international gem Blarney and use its internationally recognised name to boost business and tourism,” Mr O’Flynn added.