Community tourism network South and West Sligo Tourism carried off the gold award in the Best Tourism Initiative category of the National Community and Council Awards 2019 last weekend (Saturday 9th February 2019).
The award was presented by Eva Costello, representing sponsors Fáilte Ireland, at a gala black-tie event in the Croke Park conference centre.
Known as the LAMA Awards, the National Community and Council Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding work and achievements from local Community and County Councils, partnerships and projects that enhance our everyday lives. The Tourism award is specifically aimed at rewarding an initiative which directly increases visitor numbers to an area and improves the way we care for our visitors, as well the effect it is having on businesses, both new and existing.
Paul Taylor, Chair of South and West Sligo Tourism (SWST) said:
“I cannot express how overwhelmed and delighted we are to receive this award. The whole purpose was for the businesses and community to work together to attract more visitors and benefit the whole region. This is a wonderful endorsement of the vision which has now become a reality. I want to say a heartfelt “thank you” to the committee, our members, the festivals and all our supporters who have worked tirelessly to make the network a success. We look forward to implementing our plans for 2019.”
Driven by a voluntary committee of Cllr. Paul Taylor (chair), Fintan Kennedy (vice chair), Sean McDonagh/ Louise Kilbane (joint secretaries), Tony Hession (treasurer), Ray O’Grady (Sligo County Council) and committee members Geraldine Brennan, David Tuffy and the South Sligo Tourist Office. The project engages Marie Brouder of Brouder Marketing and is supported by Sligo County Council.
South and West Sligo Tourism is a 40 strong member-based network, which has put practical measures in place to boost tourism in the largely rural area. Initiatives have included annual booklets including maps and calendars of events, a heritage and historical trails video with accompanying booklet and map, a series of #MySligo marketing campaign videos, networking events, sustained social media activity, media visits and implementation of an ongoing marketing plan. Outstanding successes have included being finalists in the Pride of Place Awards and our members featuring in an impressive seven-page feature in Cara Magazine, the Aer Lingus in-flight publication.
The educational and networking aspects of the project have improved and honed the existing offerings for tourists, these have included familiarisation visits to members. Members have learned how to present and promote their businesses in a more effective way. They have access to an ever-growing photographic library and are learning techniques and strategies to utilise these effectively. The network is delighted to collaborate with Sligo Walks and Sligo Tourism.
Strategic and consistent use of social media has capitalised on the potential of the internet – introducing South and West Sligo to a huge national and international audience which would otherwise have been unreachable. The effect has been to attract the interest of bloggers and journalists as well as Sligo diaspora and potential visitors around the globe.
South and West Sligo Tourism is an initiative which resulted from the Tubbercurry Rural Economic Development Zones (REDZ) programme. It is still in its infancy, but it has a strong kernel and is projected to expand in both membership and effect over the coming years.