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Strategy aims to sell Galway as a world-class destination



Galway is being lined up to become world-class destination – backed up by the Wild Atlantic Way and the new East Galway Lakelands brands – in a new tourism strategy being prepared for the next eight years.

And festivals – ‘hyped up’ to have international appeal – are seen as another key driver.

Galway City and County Councils are about to prepare ‘Galway to 2025: Preparing a Tourism Strategy for Galway’.

The proposed ‘vision’ for the region is to ensure “Galway will be a renowned world-class destination, offering exciting and unexpected experiences from the Wild Atlantic Way to its Lakelands – a great place to live, explore and immerse oneself and wish to return to”.

“As the capital of festivals, a small number of signature events must be elevated to have international appeal,” the document reads.

The strategy will also recognise the importance of the Wild Atlantic Way – almost 700km of Galway’s coastline runs along it, with the city and Clifden recognised as key hotspots and Salthill as the mid-way point.

However, it also recognises that inland, the same promotional opportunities do not currently exist.

“As the more inland areas of County Galway cannot directly compete with coastal areas, the focus must be on the provision of alternative experiences with excellent visitor managements and services, authenticity, less congestion and special interest breaks, etc.

“The east of the county offers opportunities of particular appeal to domestic visitors. A Lakelands brand will be developed to encompass the experiences of the midland counties and east Galway,” it reads.

The document adds: “Consistent marketing and branding will be needed (e.g. with a master brand logos, symbols, a digital hub, public street dressing etc) and opportunities to learn from international good practice examples and regions of comparable size must be grasped.”

Value for money is seen as a key driver for Galway to attract visitors.

“The tourism sector must remain value for money if it is to compete internationally. Despite their relative short stays, tourists are demanding and seek excellent products and joined-up holiday experiences.

“An understanding of what the market wants should guide the offering provided. Ongoing refinement will be necessary taking account of any changes in market profile, demands, preferences and lengths of stay,” it reads.

The document also notes the importance of small towns in attracting tourist revenue.

“The Gathering demonstrated how communities invest in tourism and support it. Their tireless efforts in organising festivals and events and maintaining their local area or presenting their heritage are tremendous. Small towns really do have big ideas for the future of their area.”

The local authorities have also said that capacity and access arrangements need to be planned in advance for the influx of visitors in 2020 for the European Capital of Culture, and if coach or cruise tourist numbers increase.

Nearly 2.25 million people visited Galway in 2015, spending close to €670 million. 11% of the total overseas visitors came to Galway (the third highest rate after Dublin and Cork) and spent €475m of that revenue.

Just under 10% of total domestic visitors came to Galway last year and generated €194m. It is estimated that 12-14% of Galway businesses are involved in tourism and it accounts for 10-12% of employment.

Among the biggest attractions last year were the City Museum (174,556); Connemara National Park (190,753) for free attractions. For fee-paying attractions, the biggest were Kylemore Abbey and Gardens (300,000 people); Dún Aonghasa on Inis Mór (120,104) and the Sheep and Wool Centre in Leenane (105,000).

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest



Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races



Loughrea’s Marathon Man Jarlath Fitzgerald.

On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.

But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.

“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”

We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.

Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.

To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.

He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.

Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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