THE Burren will be ofﬁcially named as Ireland’s second ever ecotourism destination at a ceremony in Ballyvaughan next month.
This designation is the culmination of more then two years of work by the Burren Ecotourism Network – a host of local businesses and organisations in the area.
Ecotourism involved a move away from traditional mass-tourism and towards providing visitors with a more individual, more person tourist experience in Clare.
The classiﬁcation of the Burren as an ofﬁcial ecotourism destination could become a major long-term driver for the local tourism industry. It is predicted that the ecotourism movement will become one of the primary drivers if tourism in Ireland in the coming years.
The Burren Ecotourism Network hope that this brand of tourism will encourage visitors to stay for longer in the county, spend more money in the area and cause less impact on the environmental and social make-up of the Burren.
Co-ordinated by the Burren Connect Project in Ennistymon, the network has seen a wide variety of north Clarebased businesses coming together for a series of mentoring days, local cleanups and education events designed to improve the tourism product offered in the Burren region. The group has been working to gain accreditation from Ecotourism Ireland and in piloting Ireland’s ﬁrst ecotourism certiﬁcation programme. A number of local businesses are due to receive their own individual accreditation from Ecotourism Ireland this month.
“The network is offering visitors opportunities to engage with the protected landscape of the Burren in a manner which is sustainable both in terms of the environment as well as the community,” said Edel Hayes of the Burren Connect Project.
“Accommodation, food, farming, outdoor activities, culture and heritage are all part of the network, which has woven together all the elements that make the area attractive to visitors looking for authentic tourism experiences. Tourism businesses involved in the network are committed to local produce, conservation and the community, as well as to continuing high standards in sustainability.”
The Burren Ecotourism Network elected its ﬁrst committee last year with Joanna McInerney of the Burren Outdoor Education Centre elected as chairperson; Marie Neylon of Coroﬁn Camping and Hostel elected as secretary and Orla Vaughan of Kilfenora Hostel and Chris O’Neill of Burren Painting Centre elected as joint treasurers. The network will be ofﬁcially launched at Gregans Castle Hotel in Ballyvaughan on March 3.