Tourism in a heritage town in the South East of Ireland: Current offering, gaps & opportunities.
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Located in Co. Cork, on the south coast of Ireland, Youghal is a remarkable town with treasures to rival any town on the world stage, a place where historical and medieval characteristics are second to none. The town of Youghal guards an important and unique collection, in terms of history, stories, buildings and artefacts. Boasting connections with an array of historical figures such as Sir Walter Raleigh (Mayor of Youghal from 1588-1589), Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork, Oliver Cromwell (wintered here in 1649), Queen Victoria through the ‘Youghal Lace’ of her coronation veil, the distinctive figure of Tom Thumb , a chapter concerning its very own witch and corresponding witch trial, settlers such as the Vikings, the Anglo Normans, reminders of a Medieval era, Georgian era, a Victorian era, and town walls that were built in 1250 AD, still proudly facing the sea below. Youghal’s strengths are in its historical offering and in its exquisite beach location. There are 4.5kms of beach available to the visitor, along with four town parks: 1798 Memorial Green Park, Millennium Park, Keane Park and College Gardens. Youghal offers a rich tourist menu that on a global stage is significant. Historically, Youghal’s importance in the region was associated with its role as a Port Town and an industrial centre. Unfortunately, the 1980s witnessed a decline in these roles and the town’s population waned (Youghal Town Council, 2010). Recently, however, from a tourist destination perspective, Youghal has benefited in that is was chosen for a pilot programme of the Historic Towns Initiative, together with the towns of Listowel & Westport. This initiative is with the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, The Heritage Council of Ireland and Fáilte Ireland. This new research specifically examines the tourist product offering in Youghal and identifies gaps and opportunities for the future of the tourist product offering, together with recommendations for future development. The empirical data for this study was gathered using both in-depth interviews and projective techniques. The qualitative element consisted of interviews with 22 relevant people drawn from local industry, the local business community, local residents and local politicians. Additionally, 71 people were picked at random to participate in the projective techniques which yielded some significant findings. The aim of this research is to identify and analyse the region’s tourism product and services offering, with the specific aim of providing hope for the region in terms of local employment, increasing visitor numbers, and driving the local economy. The research findings will determine the area’s strengths, gaps and opportunities, aligned with appropriate markets and potential investment attraction for the region. Immediate actions to boost the tourist offering are identified in this study, together with long term projects and plans.
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