A delay in opening the tourist office in Cahir is leading to growing fears that it may not open at all this summer, because of Fáilte Ireland financial cutbacks - and because their lease on the building has run out.
Local business and politicians share a growing concern that the office, located close to Cahir Castle, could remain closed, as it has already missed its traditional Easter opening date.
It is believed that the Fáilte Ireland lease on the town centre office has run out, and that discussions have yet to take place with building owners South Tipperary County Council. However, Deputy Mattie McGrath has expressed his disbelief that this official business was not conducted during the winter and completed before the tourist season began. He said he is “appalled the office is not open by May 1. Fáilte Ireland need to ‘get the finger out.’”
In response to a Dail question placed by Deputy McGrath, Fáilte Ireland have confirmed that they are currently reviewing their tourist office network in an effort to match significantly reduced resources with peak visitor demand, and that they have sought a meeting with the Local Authority to explore options in relation to tourist information provision. Pending the outcome of this meeting a decision will be made regarding the operation of Cahir Tourist Office this summer.
“This is outrageous; Cahir Tourist Office normally opens Easter Week. Easter Week has come and gone and Fáilte Ireland are only now considering their options and looking for a meeting with South Tipperary County Council. If they wanted to review their tourist office network, it should have been done during the winter and not wait until the start of the tourist season to start looking into it,” said Deputy McGrath.
“The tourist season in Cahir is about to kick off and the fact that no-one knows whether or not the tourist office will re-open is shocking. This office is the only Fáilte Ireland operated tourist office in Tipperary and it is unacceptable that a definite decision to reopen the office has not been made.
“2013 is supposed to be the year of The Gathering; the year that we all make an extra effort to welcome tourists, yet Tipperary is on the verge of being left without an important tourist office. Tipperary has a lot to offer in terms of tourism but the area needs support. The Fáilte Ireland Tourist Office is essential to act as an information hub and to support groups who are doing their best to promote Tipperary as a tourist destination. Every town in the county needs tourism but with no information hub, they will likely end up driving through Tipperary without realising what this county has to offer.”
Gerry Duffy, former chairperson of Cahir Tourism, hit out at the continued closure of Cahir Tourist Office. “I worked hard many years ago to lobby for the conversion of the then bus shelter to a modern tourism office with success, and since then the office and its staff have been an asset to tourism in the Cahir and South Tipperary areas. The office is vital not only for local accommodation providers but also for local hotels, pubs, shops and the Cahir area economy and seasonal and full time employment. This is one cutback too many and will result only in a loss to the economy. This represents a further stripping away at the rural fabric in South Tipperary, and I call on local business people in the Cahir area to speak out and demand the local tourist office is opened for the upcoming summer season.”