A decision to close Waterford's Failte Ireland Tourist Information Centre has been described as 'unfathomable and enraging' by a local councillor.
Cllr. Jason Murphy spoke with Damien Tiernan on Deise Today, and he says the decision 'makes no sense'.
In a statement, Failte Ireland have said the centre will remain closed for the time being due to 'low projected footfall'.
Given the high volumes of tourism which Waterford is experiencing at present, Cllr. Murphy says he cannot understand the decision.
"We're Ireland's oldest city here. We have five award-winning museums. Two weeks ago, we had a Minister down here opening up the Museum of Time - Paschal Donohue. He passed that closed Failte Ireland office on the way to open up that museum. We have an offering here that's second to none. I find it unfathomable and enraging that they're after closing the office here in Waterford."
Ten offices across the country were re-opened, but Waterford's office has remained close since March 2020, at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Why have they picked to close Waterford when they chose to open ten offices around the country, after Covid - including Kilkenny, Cork, Killarney, Sligo and Monaghan. Are Failte Ireland seriously trying to tell us that Monaghan and Sligo have a higher footfall than Waterford? We're supposed to be a major stop. Why did they pick Waterford? We're the capital of Ireland's Ancient East, Ireland's oldest city. We have closed a tourism office which is only ten minutes away from some of our best attractions. To me, it makes no sense."
The statement issued by Failte Ireland reads as follows:
"Most of Fáilte Ireland’s Tourist Information Centres (TIC), including the Waterford Office, have been closed since March 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Fáilte Ireland is maintaining the operational decisions taken during Summer 2020 concerning TICs.
This means that 10 of the Tourism Information Centres in our network opened on June 2nd and Waterford was not included in this group. This decision is based on several factors, including the low footfall to TICs by domestic visitors, staff redeployment to critical roles supporting tourism businesses within Fáilte Ireland and the capacity of the TIC to re-open under current COVID public health restrictions.
Only 3% of domestic visitors visited a Fáilte Ireland Tourist Information Centre in 2019. Visitors seek their local information via different channels - online, friends, family, the local community and with the aid of tourist maps and brochures. As we continue our journey towards recovery, Fáilte Ireland is committed to support the tourism industry get back on its feet nationwide while
investing in serving visitors efficiently and in a manner that they want with a focus primarily on the domestic visitor experience this summer.
Given the domestic market seeks information online combined with the aid of tourist maps and brochures we have designed our service to specifically meet their needs effectively.
Our 2021 local information provision supports will include:
• The recently re-launched discoverireland.ie site which has been significantly upgraded and contains lots of local information on tours, activities, attractions, and hospitality businesses in Waterford.
• The direct distribution to accommodation and attraction providers of the soon to be published new Waterford City and Regional Map Guide.
Fáilte Ireland has also embarked on an extensive marketing and communications campaigns, including the recent re-start of our ‘Keep Discovering’ domestic marketing campaign across multi-channel media including TV, radio, print and outdoor. This campaign features Waterford."
You can listen to Cllr. Murphy's interview from 5:40 below.