I had the pleasure of attending the Waterford Local Experts Programme arranged by Fáilte Ireland this week, and held at The Tower Hotel on Waterford Quay. The Local Experts concept is a huge initiative arranged by Fáilte Ireland to offer free and practical guidance to local companies and their staff, assisting them in widening their knowledge of their area in an attempt to promote this to visiting tourists.
Who can attend the Waterford Local Experts Programme?
In short, anyone with a vested interest or business in the area. After introductions, it appeared there was a great mixture of people from within the local tourism industry in attendance; from Hotel Workers to touring experts, Café owners and Waiters/ Waitresses to those working in museums and visitor centres and of course myself, in my capacity as a local blogger and writer. Everyone was keen to learn more about how we could work together to promote tourism for the beautiful county of Waterford.
What are the aims of the Waterford Local Experts Programme?
Presented by the wonderful Deirdre and Celia, their aim was to ‘undertake and bring Waterford and Ireland to life for visitors’, with a focus on four main areas:
- To develop a new local network.
- To highlight the importance of the attendees role in the visitors’ journey.
- To provide inspiration and information to help the visitors.
- To work on increasing dwell time in Waterford.
Statistics and Figures
The hosts ran through the incredible statistics with us, firstly:
- There were 9.6 million visitors to Ireland during 2018.
- This amounted to an overall visitor spend of 5.3 billion euro.
- Waterford saw 582,000 visitors to the county in 2018.
- This generated a huge income of 127 million euro.
- The average spend of a domestic visitor per stay is 195 euro.
- The average spend of an international visitor per stay is 545 euro.
- Within Waterford, 1000 visitors equates to the generation of an additional 20 jobs.
- Thus, 10,000 visitors equates to the generation of an additional 200 jobs.
So, as we can see from the above figures, tourism is hugely important and beneficial to Waterford and of course, Ireland’s economy as a whole.
What do you cover during the Waterford Local Experts programme?
The bulk of the programme looked at the wonderful things Waterford has to offer its visitors, honing in on the County’s main features or its ‘hot list’:
- History – Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city, so naturally it has a wealth of history to be discovered.
- Coastline – Waterford has over 100km of coastline and beaches, offering wonderful locations for swimming, watersports and so much more.
- Walks – Waterford has 46km of off-road cycling and walking trails to be explored; from cliff-walks to woodland trails to simple walks along the beach, there is something for everyone.
- Festivals and Events – Every season of the year festivals are held throughout the county, including food, music, arts, crafts, theatre, film – the list is endless.
Looking at visitor requirements
After discussing other key tourist attractions, we looked at the requirements of visitors, the questions those in the tourism industry should be able to answer, and those they should be asking to enhance their visitors’ experience:
What you should know
- The Proximity of local attractions/ how long it takes to get there.
- How busy will it be? Are there key times to go to avoid big crowds?
- The unique experiences the area has to offer.
- Opening days and times of attractions including seasonal information.
- The ameneties and facilities on offer at the attraction such as accessibility, restaurants, parking etc.
- Potential itinerary ideas based on the tourists length of stay.
- Cost of attractions/ bundle deals available – many attractions in Waterford have offers available if visitors plan on taking in more than one during their stay.
- Free attractions.
- How to travel to and from attractions e.g. timetables, taxi prices etc.
- The length of each experience so that they can plan the rest of their day around it.
What you can ask
- How long are they visiting for?
- What do they like to do?
- How far are they willing to travel?
- Personal requirements such as accessibility and dietary needs.
What outcome can be expected from this?
By informing and educating those who work within the tourism sector, Fáilte Ireland are aiming toward four main and extremely important outcomes:
- Returning tourists – we want them to enjoy their visit and of course return again.
- Extended stays – if they can, we want them to dwell for longer and enjoy more of the area.
- Increased spending – this has proven extremely beneficial to the local economy and beyond.
- Word of mouth promotion – we want them to talk to others, share their experiences on social media and write wonderful reviews – all of this will continue to increase tourism to the area.
The programme and its wonderful hosts really focused on ensuring locals can offer optimum, realistic information and options to visitors to create a wonderful experience for those staying in Waterford. Thanks to this initiative, visitors will be dealing with knowledgable, interested and passionate staff when liaising with the tourism sector.
I would highly recommend this programme, it is worth your time and by working together and networking, we can continue to increase visitor numbers to wonderful Waterford.
Peace & Love