Increase in Tourism

The recent spell of good weather over the Easter Holidays reminded us once again of how lucky we are to live in this beautiful part of Ireland. It was wonderful to see so many visitors in Sligo, many participating in Feis Cheoil or Feis Sligeach, others golfing in the West of Ireland Championship and many more availing of the preferential sterling exchange rate. It was also great to see so many taking on the new route up to Knock Na Rae which is likely to add significantly to our ever growing list of walking routes throughout the County.
According to Fáilte Ireland, tourism was worth €70m to Sligo in 2010 and €83m in 2013. That’s an increase of €13m over three years. Failte Ireland also state that every €1m generated in the local economy creates 13 full time jobs. Using that multiplier, the increase in tourism between 2010 and 2013 led to the creation of 169 jobs in County Sligo. It is important to note that this is before the advent of the Wild Atlantic Way and indeed the arrival of Fleadh Cheoil Na hÉireann in 2014. We can therefore expect a significant increase again when the 2014 figures are released.
When we look back on that period between 2010 and 2013, one of the factors that contributed significantly to the increase in tourism numbers were the Sligo tourism media campaigns of 2011, 2012 and 2013. In the region of €500,000 was spent through a combination of business and LEADER funding on media placement alone during that time. All of this was done on a voluntary basis by Sligo people at home and beyond who want to “Help Sligo Grow”. The business element of that funding went into the Fleadh in 2014 where €340,000 was raised in local sponsorship and contributions. That model will be repeated this year.
In 2016, we in Sligo will be beneficiaries of a tourism business worth in the region of €100m with no one body responsible and adequately resourced (at time of writing) for its promotion and development. How long must it take to realise that a business worth €100m needs to be professionally and adequately resourced so that we all can enjoy the economic benefits of living in this very special part of the world?