Let’s pull together and do better for Cork

Head of Visit Cork and Pure Cork Seamus Heaney reflects on the achievements of the Pure Cork initiative since it was launched and announces plans for the year ahead
Let’s pull together and do better for Cork
Ger O'Mahony; Ann Doherty, CEO, Cork City Council; Ciara Gallagher, Failte Ireland; Seamus Heaney, Head of Visit Cork; Josephine O'Driscoll, Failte Irealand (Wild Atlantic Way); Mary Houlihan, Failte Ireland; Evelyn O'Sullivan, Cork Convention Bureau and Monica MacLaverty, Failte Ireland at the Pure Cork Tourism Industry Day at Vienna Woods Country House.Pic: Brian Lougheed

THIS is an exciting time for tourism in Cork. The tourism industry currently supports almost 22,500 jobs across the City and County and as Head of Visit Cork — the partnership that promotes Cork as a destination for leisure, under the Pure Cork brand, and business tourism, under Cork Convention Bureau — I am happy to say that as an industry, it is clear that we are all beginning to pull together to collectively promote the best that Cork has to offer.

The Pure Cork brand imaginatively embraces the spirit of both the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East and is based around promoting Cork as Ireland’s Maritime Haven. It sets out to differentiate Cork from all other destinations in a distinctive and meaningful way.

At the recent Pure Cork Industry Day in Vienna Woods Hotel, I was delighted to reveal the achievements of the Pure Cork initiative since it was launched and announce some of our strategic plans for the year ahead.

In addition to supporting jobs, tourism also supports the entire local economy. In 2017, €833 million in revenue was generated for Cork through overseas and domestic tourism. Last year, in 2018, 1.7 million tourists visited Cork, equating to the generation of 200 jobs, while €13.2 million was generated through conference and business tourism with a further €14m confirmed business for 2020. This is highly significant in terms of tourism’s contribution to the Cork economy.

Business tourism in particular offers a huge opportunity for growth and Cork Convention Bureau is here to support anyone wishing to bring a conference to the Cork region. I would encourage anyone interested in doing so to get in touch with Evelyn O’Sullivan, Manager at Cork Convention Bureau. We’re always happy to talk!

It’s therefore no surprise that in the last 12 months, Cork was named as the third friendliest city in the Europe by Conde Nast Traveler’s annual reader survey. We now also have three Michelin star restaurants, one located in the city and two in the county, and two further Cork restaurants were honoured as winners at the inaugural World Restaurant Awards in Paris in January. These are incredible achievements that should be applauded and which we should all be proud of as they rightly reaffirm Cork as the food capital of Ireland. We at Pure Cork, along with our partners in Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland, continue to promote the region nationally and internationally as a quality food destination.

In terms of access and tourism offering, there are now 51 direct scheduled routes in to Cork Airport and more than 800 Cork tourism festivals and events currently listed on the new purecork.ie website. Again, I would like to encourage all those involved in tourism to upload details of their tourism business, festival or event to the Pure Cork website and to engage with our social media channels, so they can be actively supported by our team.

With regard to plans for the future, Pure Cork is now undertaking a number of initiatives, working with Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland, to collectively sell Cork as a destination. This includes targeting new markets that are directly serviced by airline routes into Cork Airport, as well as growing domestic visitors to the Cork region.

With two flights, operated by Aer Lingus and Air France, now servicing Cork daily from Paris, Pure Cork sees France as one of the biggest opportunities for growth. We are currently doing a “deep dive” into the French market and are utilising some interesting research around French tourists to help us tap in to the market. For example, we know that 46% of all French visitors are from the Paris region; 53% travel around Ireland by hire car, French visitors average a 10.3 night stay in Ireland and the majority tend to travel from April-June, which would help us extend the tourist season in Cork.

Direct access in to the region is key to developing the French market. There are currently 2,200 airline seats in to Cork per week from France along with 1,000 ferry seats and we are working closely with Cork Airport, the airline and ferry companies to sustain these services.

Pure Cork is also working in partnership with Tourism Ireland to convey the depth of the tourism experience available here to the French market. As part of the promotional initiative, representatives from Pure Cork will both attend and host a series of events in France in the coming months to highlight Cork as a tourism destination. This includes attending a St. Patrick’s Day event on the Champs Elysees with the Irish Ambassador in France on March 14 th as well as other events yet to be announced in Bordeaux and Paris. Key media and tour operators from this region will also be invited to visit Cork in the near future.

Pure Cork also sees huge growth opportunities in immersive experiences, dynamic packaging (hotels and attractions working together) and the night-time economy. We are actively encouraging tourism businesses to create exciting experiences and offers in the evening to ensure overnight stays and a longer dwell time for tourists in the region.

At the end of the day, our objective is to see everyone involved in tourism in Cork working together to promote Cork and the Pure Cork brand to collectively grow the industry for the benefit of the entire local economy. Pure Cork is about all of the Cork tourism industry working together in the understanding that by pulling together we can do better. Ní neart go cur le chéile – Fior Chrocaigh.

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