Killarney’s traffic issues and low occupancy levels in winter were key issues raised at the Killarney Chamber of Tourism & Commerce business meeting held last night (Thursday).
Business people from the town gathered in the Killarney Avenue Hotel at 6.30pm for the annual general meeting (AGM) , where outgoing President Paul O’Neill addressed members.
CEO of Kerry County Council Moira Murrell, who was due to present ‘Transportation Plans for 2019’ for Killarney town, was unable to attend.
In her place was Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Services, Charlie O’Sullivan who outlined transportation plans to members present.
While Killarney is doing extremely well in the busy summer months, concern has been voiced that occupancy levels remain very low during the winter shoulder season and that problem needs to be tackled as a priority, outgoing Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce President, Paul O’Neill, told the meeting.
He said the most significant finding in the TEIR One economic impact study, commissioned by the Chamber, was that, overall, occupancy levels were found to be 10 percent below the national average and five percent down on the south west.
“A significant project backed and resourced by Fáilte Ireland and Kerry County Council, in partnership with Killarney Chamber, is well underway and there is one clear objective – season extension,” Mr O’Neill said.
“If we can add two or three busy weeks to the year, and more in time, this will benefit the town hugely, sustain employment and add to those all-important numbers.”
Killarney will have the benefit of Wild Atlantic Way Gateway status next year and that should be a boost, the meeting heard.
“The national purse-strings are now beginning to loosen and Killarney, like so many other places, is badly in need of investment. There have been numerous town enhancements over the last few years, in collaboration with the Tidy Towns and Killarney Municipal District, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Kerry County Council for the continued positive working relationship,” Paul O’Neill said in his final address as president.
“Yes, there have been times where we have been frustrated by the pace of activity on certain projects, and I’m sure that they have tired of our pestering, but we have a constructive relationship.
“We will continue to fight for Killarney and for our fair share of the national and county spoils”.
TEIR One has enabled Chamber to factually argue its case for more funding and resources but it has also helped it to establish a reputation nationally as a progressive organisation to be taken seriously.
“We plan to build on TEIR One over the coming years with updated reports.”
Mr O’Neill said at the start of his two-year term in office, one of his main objectives was to establish Killarney as Ireland’s leading accessible destination and, since then, Fáilte Ireland has designated Killarney a pilot destination.
“The ‘Destination For All’ project is progressing very well. We launched our plans in October and we will be ramping up activity and awareness, both locally and nationally, in 2019.
“Of course, there is the moral and social benefit but with Killarney positioning itself as the leading destination for everyone, I know that there is a massive economic potential as well,” he said.
Other projects that will be significantly advanced next year include the development of a new heritage trail, with electronic visitor maps, an upgrading of information panels and maps at various points at entrances to the national parks and the creation of a series of promotional videos targeting the shoulder season.
“These projects are supported by the Kerry County Council Community Support Fund and we thank the local authority and the elected members for their collaboration,” he said.
“We live in one of the most vibrant towns in Ireland and this organisation embodies that energy like no other. I must say that it has been a pleasure and an honour to work with so many talented and passionate people”.