Boost for marine tourism in West Clare

Dolphin watching, sea sports, and other marine ecotourism activities in the West Clare Peninsula will receive a boost today (June 6, 2001) with the launch of IRRUS, a new branding for marine ecotourism in West Clare.

The initiative was based on findings of a strategic report 'Special interest Marine Tourism in the West Clare Peninsula' which recommended key actions including the co-ordination and marketing of marine tourism activities in the area under a clear brand image. The name IRRUS, originally the ancient name for West Clare Peninsula, was adopted by the marketing group responsible for the development of marine ecotourism in the region.

The website is central to the promotional package and during a two-month trial this site has already attracted over 24,500 hits. According to Yvonne Shields, Director of Science, Technology and Innovation at the Marine Institute,  the IRRUS website has excellent potential. "Next year is the International year of Ecotourism and the website will be an innovative marketing tool to promote Ecotourism in Ireland to the International market," she said.

West Clare boasts it's own unique selling points including Dolphin watching, coastal walks and bird watching which provide the focus for the marine ecotourism brand. Over the past six months the IRRUS marketing group, comprised of local tourism activity, service and accommodation providers from West Clare, have worked in conjunction with Shannon Development and the Marine Institute to develop the market branding.

"The combined marketing strength of all of West Clares' marine activities will ensure that a stronger tourism message gets to the consumer and will undoubtedly boost tourism numbers to the area", said Mr. John Quinlivan, Shannon Development's Regional Development Manager in Co. Clare.

The group has developed a comprehensive code of best practice for all members of the 'IRRUS' brand. It aims to ensure credibility for the brand and promote a high quality products and services. "Adherence to this code will ensure that the West Clare IRRUS product maintains a high quality which can be labelled as genuine ecotourism", explained Ms. Zena Hoctor, project manager, META*.

A half-day seminar on 'Special Interest Marine Tourism in West Clare' will be hosted in conjunction with the launch held at the Vandeleur Gardens, Kilrush Co. Clare. Key speakers will address the marine tourism and leisure potential and associated marine ecotourism activities. John Quinlivan, Shannon Development will assess the key actions taken to date in relation to promoting West Clare marine tourism and more importantly discuss plans to sustain momentum in the future.