Continuing on the success of previous study visits to Gozo, Auvergne, Vidzeme and Gran Paradiso, Cork County Council were delighted to host their partners in the Destination SMEs project in Cork.  The three day itinerary showcased the best practices on offer in Destination Management across the whole county, each day focusing on a different part of the county.
An overview was provided on the national policy that guides interventions at the local level.  Presentations on the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East brands illustrated how national campaigns could be exploited locally and used to leverage benefits through their adoption by local SMEs.

The importance of the development of destination management strategies and actions through the bottom-up approach was highlighted.  Partners had an opportunity to ‘Meet the Makers’, food and craft SMEs, who collaborate under the Living the Sheep’s Head Way umbrella to create authentic experiences and events to extend not only the tourist offering but also the tourist season. Ring of Cork in the east of the county is a similar network of businesses working collectively, and partners heard of the supports offered to SMEs.

Islands face particular challenges in tourism development and the West Cork Islands Interagency Group and Cork Harbour Islands were presented as good practices in this area, the principles of which would equally apply in mainland marginal or isolated territories.  An immersive experience on Whiddy Island provided a chance for partners to taste some of the produce of the west of the county.

A visit to Ballyhoura Mountain bike trails demonstrated a model for the co-operation of a public body, Coillte, who own and operate the site and the local LEADER company and SMEs.
Partners had the opportunity to explore the tourist attractions of Youghal Clock Gate and St. Mary’s Collegiate Church in Youghal and Doneraile and meet the volunteer guides who facilitate the operation of these attractions. Feedback during the technical meeting showed how partners were impressed with the passion and devotion of local communities and volunteers in particular.

The importance of food to the region was highlighted to the partners through a presentation on the supports provided by Cork County Council such as the Taste Cork regional brand initiative and the Cork Incubator Kitchens which was of particular interest to a number of partners.
The visit concluded with the Technical Meeting at which the policies and practices experienced over the course of the week were reviewed and additional information sought. 

Look at the photogallery