Businesses along the successful Sheep’s Head Way walking route are pulling together to form a new tourism co-operative which will help to promote tourism on the Sheep’s Head peninsula — as well as in Bantry and the surrounding areas — to an international audience.
‘When we work together, we can make a much bigger impact than we can when we each work on our own’, explains John Tobin, the chair of the co-op’s founding committee: ‘That’s why we’re inviting businesses and individuals across the area to support us by joining the co-operative, and helping to get it off the ground in time for the summer season of 2013.’
Working Together for a Higher Profile
The co-op will work all year round to give a high profile to the area and to the firms that are participating in the enterprise,’ says John. ‘When we use a single voice to promote our region as a great holiday destination, we’ll be able to get our message across to visitors much more effectively that we do now. And as well as helping tourists, we’ll be promoting strong and productive links between local businesses.’
‘It’s an ambitious plan, but we’re confident that people on the Sheep’s Head peninsula, and in Bantry, Ballylickey, Kealkill, and Drimoleague, will rise to the challenge.’
Membership of the co-op can be secured for an initial fee of €100, and an annual renewal fee of €100. People who join the organisation will be actively promoted throughout the year via conventional and social media, and members will also be eligible to take part in events organised by the co-op which will be working hard to improve the quality of tourism services available near the Sheep’s Head Way.
The co-operative has already won support from businesses along the popular walking route which runs west from Gougane Barra to the end of the peninsula. Mick Cremin, who runs Kealkill’s Cremin Coaches, is one business owner who is convinced that the plan has great potential for the area as a whole: ‘It makes sense for us to be working together’ says Mick. ‘More and more tourists are planning their holidays, online and in detail, before they leave home. If we are getting our message across in a co-ordinated way, tourists will be able to get a sense of what their whole holiday will be like at the planning stage.’
Elaine Dempsey of Bantry’s Maritime Hotel agrees: ‘Through the co-op’s website and brochure, visitors will be able to find out about everything from accommodation and activities to walking routes, historical sites, cafés and tours. We’ll be giving people a real incentive, not only to come here to West Cork, but also to stay longer, and participate in everything that businesses of all sizes have to offer.’
Helping Smaller Firms
The founding of the co-operative represents an acknowledgement that the area needs to work hard to compete for tourist business given that Ireland’s visitors often build their plans around trips to world-famous destinations like Blarney Castle or the Cliffs of Moher. The co-op’s ‘umbrella’ website will be linked to other sites run by national initiatives such as the new Wild Atlantic Way, and this will help small firms in particular to become more visible to potential tourists.
‘With the co-op up and running, we’ll be able to do more business, and do it better’ affirms John Tobin, ‘and the more people who get involved at this early stage, the more impact we’ll have.’
UPDATE: LEADER funding is now available for the co-operative’s activities, subject to matched funds being raised by the co-operative. Those funds will be raised from subscriptions to the co-operative, so please do consider joining us.