Tirconnail Tribune, 21st November 2000


Question: What is the point of consultant’s reports?Answer: Consultant’s fees of course!

I have yet another one of these glossy reports on my desk at the moment.

It is very glossy.

It is very nice.

And it is very, very useless.

The report is about tourism in the West of Ireland.

Its upshot is that rural areas have lost out in tourism growth because too many organisations have been operating without any clear leadership or strategy.

The Western Development Commission (WDC) commissioned the report.

Never heard of them?

Don’t worry that isn’t a major deficit ion your life-believe me.

The figures in this report are-frankly incredible.

Under the “What the market tells us” section it stated what were listed in as the main likes & dislikes of the place from a tourists point of view.

According to this waste of glossy paper only 3% thought the West was an expensive place-3%!

The tourists that the reporters in the Tirconaill Tribune interviewed this summer it was a damn sight higher than 3% that thought the place was seriously over-priced.

The Blueprint for Tourism Development in the West has 48 proposals.

The report recommend as “Five Key Changes” to achieve tourism growth in the 7 western counties that the WDC has responsibility for;

1 the creations of a “High Level Steering Group”.
2. The appointment of an “Action Team”.
3. Additional funding to assist regional tourism authorities.
4.The creation of ” Rural Tourism Partnerships” with the private sector.
5. A unit in the Department of Tourism Sport and Recreation should be given overall responsibility for delivering the strategy.

Notice anything with all of this?

In five key areas the private sector-the people who actually provide the tourism product get one wee mention.

The rest of it is the need for more salary takers to have endless meetings about “The Overall Strategy”.

The Minister for Invisible Tourism, Jim “They’re there, but you can’t see them” McDaid has pledged to implement the recommendations of the report and said that there had been a lot of inefficiency in the past.

Well Minister, just who is responsible for that inefficiency where does the buck stop?

McDaid has backed the reports Big Idea, that being the creation of this steering group of suits.

These suits are in a salary comfort-zone.

They have never taken a business decision in their lives.

McDaid has asked Bord Failte to nominate a senior suit to chair this steering group.

Hold on a minute isn’t this the same Bord Failte that has presided over Donegal’s invisible tourist trade?

Liam Scollan- head boy at the Western Development Commission stated -that while Marketing, Product Development and Access were all important ,the organisation of all these organisations was the crux issue.

Isn’t this the Western Development Commission that was set up to battle bureaucracy in the west and bring decisions down to the local communities?

That Western Development Commission? Surely not.

He then stated-without a hint of irony:

“The organisation isn’t right at the moment. There are too many organisations. There is too much fragmentation and there is no clear leadership, especially as a regards tourism in rural areas.”

Too many organisations Mr.Scollan?

Could yours be one of them?

The report said of Donegal that there were too many brochures about the place.

Apparent the county is cut up into five areas and there are brochures for each area-confused? Just imagine a German or a Yank.

Not only do we cut down our few remaining trees for brochures, but also 70% of them end up in bins.

Yes, in the bin, that’s were this report should go.

It wouldn’t do our dying tourism industry a single bit of harm if the minister for Invisible Tourists did just that, but then that would take leadership.

The report was “launched at Ionad Cois Locha on Monday November 13th.

The Minister for Invisible Tourists was reminded of another of his Portfolios when he got out of his official car in Dunlewy. Minister for Pylons.

He tried to wing it with the protesters from the Alternative to Pylons group (ATP).

Clearly surprised by them being there he stammered that “I am with you 100%” he said this over & over like it would make the protesters go away.

When it was pointed out to the good Doctor that he had issues a statement in May this year backing the ESB 100% he started to rant & rave about the group wanting to drag Donegal into the “dark ages”.

Hardly, as they are for Alternatives to pylons-not against power supply in itself.

He then said that he was more worried about his toaster being a health hazard that over-head powerlines.

He must have some feckin toaster is all I can say.

Before the good Doctor gets into denying all this happened the lad from RTE had the cameral rolling the whole time-he got it all!

The report did have a brush with reality when it’s market research findings stated that the top selling point of the west of Ireland was “Environment is an essential element of the rural holiday experience and highly ratted.”

If the Minister for Pylons comes back to Dunlewy next year he will see the handiwork of his pals in the ESB in destroying a special part of that environment.

That is unless the powers that be accept a sane, humane & ecological alternative to these leukaemia transmitters.

Phil Mac Giolla Bhain

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