The tourist office on the Quay.
Tourist information has become a part-time job according to officials of Waterford City and County Council last week who announced that the Fáilte Ireland Tourist Office in Waterford would only reopen for five months of the year, during peak season.
The issue was raised by Cllr. Donal Barry (Ind) at the February plenary meeting of Waterford Council. Cllr. Barry said he noted that the local authority was in discussions with Fáilte Ireland regarding moving the Tourist Information Office from the Quay to the Museum of Treasures. He asked why it was only re-opening part-time.
Director of Services Michael Quinn confirmed that the tourist information was re-opening for five months at its new location in the Museum of Treasures. He explained that Failte Ireland had carried out a review of all their tourist offices and had moved a significant portion of them to part time.
“The simple logic is the level of footfall they are getting is decreasing. Most people use their phone now when they arrive some place. They go on TripAdvisor so the nature of the tourism advisory sector has changed dramatically over the last few years and the value of a tourism office has significantly reduced”.
He continued that the reason the council were currently in discussion with Failte Ireland was that they would like to continue the arrangement for 12 months of the year. “The proposal that we put to them was that it could be incorporated into the museum, that would achieve two things – it would allow a service to continue outside of the five months that Failte Ireland would be funding it and it would also allow a greater level of footfall as you would have a significant number of visitors coming through the museum.”
When asked about costs, Mr. Quinn said the council would be recovering an appropriate charge from Failte Ireland. “But we would be looking at how we could optimize the service rather than how we could recover any significant rent figure, that’s much more important from my point of view.”
Last summer, Fáilte Ireland announced that their office on the Quay in Waterford city would close after they conducted a survey of the number of ‘domestic visitors using the office’. At the time, they issued a statement saying the reason for the closure was due to ‘low projected footfall’, and that ‘the nature of the tourism industry contributed to the closure of Fáilte Ireland’s full-time Tourist Office in Waterford city’.
Cllr Eddie Mulligan said he preferred the original location of the tourist office on the Quay, “When it closed there was quite a substantial representation from business people saying that it should be retained in the city centre and I would support this. In my travels throughout Europe, I’ve seen the most successful tourism offices are the small, classy ones in the middle of the urban areas. They sell everything from tickets for shows, tickets for cinemas, they’ll even book restaurants for you.”
Mr. Quinn concluded by saying the optimum plan would be where you can combine a tourist office with a visitor attraction, “because you have an audience coming to the tourist attraction and you have tourism information available for them there. On balance what’s proposed is quite reasonable.”
Cllr Eddie Mulligan said he prefers the original location.