Fifty-eight (58) businesses from across North Clare have been awarded Certificates of Achievement for honouring their commitments under the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark Code of Practice for Sustainable Tourism for 2020/2021.
Developed with EU LIFE funding and launched by the Geopark in 2016, the Code is the only sustainable initiative of its kind in Ireland and in the network of 169 Geoparks spread across 44 countries.
The Code, adherence to which is a core criterion of membership of the Burren Ecotourism Network, involves businesses measuring and making reductions in environmental output as well as promoting local produce, conservation and taking part in community outreach and advocacy initiatives, networking events, site visits to each other’s businesses and green purchasing.
Congratulating the successful businesses during a ceremony at the Falls Hotel in Ennistymon, Leas Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr Joe Killeen, said, “the level of engagement by tourism operators across the Burren emphasises their commitment to implementing a range of social, environmental, and economic actions that benefit the environment, local communities, businesses and visitors. The number of businesses that have received accreditation is even more impressive when one considers the times we were in and the pressures faced by the tourism sector during the past two years.”
Cllr Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, said, “a very important aspect of UNESCO Global Geoparks’ programmes is sustainable tourism development. The approach of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark is to work collaboratively with the tourism sector to develop an ethos and practice of sustainability. With the Burren Ecotourism Network, the Code of Practice is raising the standard of sustainable practices among tourism businesses across the entire destination of the Geopark and across all types of businesses.”
Leonard Cleary, Director of Services, Rural Development Directorate, Clare County Council, stated, “over the years, the Burren has gained international recognition for sustainable destination management. The Geopark Code of Practice, which all Burren Ecotourism Network member businesses adhere to, has been key to establishing this reputation. The Local Authority is delighted to be able to support the initiative.”
Carol Gleeson, Manager of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, explained that a core criterion of membership of the Burren Ecotourism Network is for the business to provide evidence of their contributions towards working together, actively engaging in conservation, supporting the local economy and community activities, gaining knowledge of heritage and the environment, and reducing their carbon footprint through waste, water, and energy management.
She continued, “every two years members of the Network submit evidence to the Geopark Code of Practice online system. They are then externally evaluated on their commitment to these standards. This shared commitment to implementing sustainable tourism practices was highlighted when the Network was awarded the Lonely Planet Community Award for Best in Travel 2021.”
George Quinn, Chair of the Burren Ecotourism Network Board, said, “working together has helped the businesses of the Burren Ecotourism Network to establish the region as a well renowned destination. Apart from food tourism and promotion, we received the Irish Independent’s green light award for sustainability in this year’s ‘Reader Travel Awards’ for our ongoing environmental work. As the cost of energy rises, several members are seeing the benefits of conserving energy and from getting electricity from alternative sources such as is the case with the water turbines at the Falls Hotel.”
Jarlath O’Dwyer, CEO of the Burren Ecotourism Network, added, “as a destination-based hospitality group, we are very fortunate to have the Geopark Code of Practice platform available to us as it sets a standard across the region and enables businesses of all sizes to generate an environmental action plan.”
“In terms of sustainability, the members of the Network have put in a huge amount of work into monitoring their wastewater and energy, as well as having collaborated in areas like food, conservation and marketing, all of which are essential measures in the code.”
Source: Clare County Council