Tourism chief denies ‘anti-Donegal’ bias

The chairman of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation has insisted that Donegal will feature very strongly in tourism terms this year and that comments he came under fire for earlier this week in relation to the north west were “misconstrued.”

The chairman of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation has insisted that Donegal will feature very strongly in tourism terms this year and that comments he came under fire for earlier this week in relation to the north west were “misconstrued.”

In a letter to the Irish Times this week, the Chairperson of Údarás na Gaeltachta, Liam Ó’Cuinneagáin hit out at comments made by the chairman of the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation, John Healy.

In an article published in “Home News,” December 30, 2011, the director of Abbey Tours, Mr Healy, is quoted as saying unless people have ten days to spend in the country you can’t really include Donegal, “So while Dublin is successful in attracting people for short city breaks, unless you have people for ten days you can’t really include the North West.”

Mr Ó’Cuinneagáin questioned the reasoning behind Mr Healy’s opinion in his correspondence to the national newspaper. “Why not? The distance from Dublin to Galway is 200km; Dublin to Cork is 257km; Dublin to Killarney 302km; The distance from the capital city to Sligo is only 206km and to Donegal Town is 212km. Why then should it cause a difficulty for visitors to travel to the Northwest and why should they need at least 10 days? The answer is that they don’t!” Mr Ó’Cuinneagáin said.

The director of Abbey Tours, Mr Healy said that Donegal is a very important part of tourism in Ireland. “We do push Donegal and the North West very hard. We are the biggest tour operator in Ireland and if the remark was taken in the context that I think it was taken in then it was certainly wrong, it wasn’t intended from my point of view. We want business going all around the country. The remark was obviously misconstrued and there is certainly no “anti-Donegal” from our point of view. Donegal is a very important part of what we do, it can be improved if the road system is improved.”

He added that the road system from Cavan to Donegal presented a challenge to those in the county and that the people of this county should lobby to have the road upgraded.

“There are issues and the big challenge is the road system and I mean there is a road between Cavan and Donegal which is quiet a challenge. I think that Donegal should be lobbying quiet hard to get that road upgraded but we will push that as well and we will use whatever opportunities there are to get that road upgraded because that road is fundamental in the future to getting more direct access in the area. That does have to be an agenda item going forward,” he said.