Fáilte Ireland has announced that Westport has been crowned the 2014 National Large Tourism Town. The Mayo hotspot was chosen from a shortlist of ten top tourism towns including Killarney, Kilkenny, Cobh and Kinsale.
Speaking at the award’s ceremony at Clontarf Castle, Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring congratulated Westport on winning the 2014 crown – “Congratulations to Westport on what is a great achievement and worthy recognition for all that they do for tourism in Ireland. These awards are all about honouring the towns that put tourism at the centre of what they do. This is particularly evident with our winners with Westport clearly embracing tourism and seizing the opportunities that it brings.”
The Tourism Towns Award was designed by Fáilte Ireland to promote those Irish towns and villages which are working hardest to enhance their appeal to tourists visiting their local area. As the overall winner, Westport received its winning certificate along with a €5,000 grant towards further developing itself as a tourism destination.
A panel of independent assessors and a team of ‘secret shoppers’ visited each town to measure their tourism performance and the level of welcome to visitors. The Tourism Town award focuses on how participating towns have developed their local area in the following key tourism areas:
- Sense of Place – How the town tells its own unique story to visitors, what’s special about it, and what distinguishes it from other towns.
- Local Involvement – How the local community works together to provide an authentic visitor experience.
- Tourism Products Available – What the town has to offer visitors.
- Development and promotion of the town – How the town takes a unified approach to marketing and developing the town into a “tourism town”.
Congratulating all the towns involved, Paul Keeley from Fáilte Ireland said:
“If The Gathering taught us one thing, it was that those towns and parishes with the greatest grass roots engagement with tourism thrive the most. The objective of our Tourism Towns Awards is to encourage and recognise this type of community-wide commitment where it exists and share their achievements with other towns. A true ’Tourism Town’ isn’t necessarily a town that gains the most from tourism but rather a town that gives the most. In that respect Westport is a worthy winner this year.”
Accepting the award on behalf of Westport, Dermott Langan said –
“Over the years the tourism product has been greatly expanded, now competing with leading tourist destinations worldwide. Westport offers a very varied palate of visitor attractions and activities, coupled with amazing local foods and a great choice of accommodation in a setting of spectacular scenery”
THE JUDGES’ COMMENTS ON WESTPORT
First impressions are that this town is something special. One can see at the onset that this is a very well organised/maintained and compact town with lots to offer. There is a great sense of energy and pride in the town and it is obvious from the locals that they are well used to dealing with tourists. They say variety is the spice of life and Westport is not short of either. There is something for everyone and caters well for Ireland’s climate. The locals were very friendly and approachable. There is no doubt that tourism is the mainstay of the town.