The Burren EcoTourism Network in County Clare has won a prestigious travel award from Lonely Planet.
The network sees more than 60 local businesses coming together to promote sustainable tourism at the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark.
The initiative promotes slow tourism, local engagement and sustainability – with each business signing up to a ‘Code of Sustainable Practice’ that encourages reductions in waste output, water consumption and energy usage.
Lonely Planet spokesperson Noirin Hegarty says the Burren EcoTourism Network has become a global leader for sustainable tourism:
“I think the Cliffs of Moher is an iconic Irish destination to visit,” she said. “It is known the world over.
“This campaign goes out globally. The Burren Eco-Tourism network is up there with places like Medellin in Colombia for community revitalisation or Australia for community restoration in the year when they had the bushfires.
“But I think what the Burren Eco-Tourism network is trying to achieve is to introduce the rest of the region to people who might just take a day-trip to the Cliffs of Moher.”
Lonely Planet said the COVID-19 pandemic had led to a “radical reimagining” of its annual Best in Travel list – with the 2021 offering celebrating commitments to community, diversity and sustainability across the world.
It said Best in Travel 2021 “champions people who make travel a force for good” – focusing on a future tourism industry built around groups travelling purposefully, with careful attention to the communities they explore.
Ms Hegarty said nearly seventy businesses have now signed up to the Burren EcoTourism Network.
“Essentially they are looking after all of the people who visit the region but they are also looking after the people who live in the region and the region itself for future generations,” she said.
“As you know, the Burren is a remarkable landscape – a fabulous natural heritage for Ireland and they promote slow tourism, local engagement and greater responsibility for all.”
Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons said the award was a well-deserved accolade for the Burren EcoTourism Network, “recognising all of their hard work to become a global leader for sustainable tourism
“In what has been a devastating year for travel and tourism, this accolade is really good news and will surely inspire travellers everywhere to put the Burren, County Clare and the island of Ireland on their holiday wish-list – when the time is right,” he said.
Other projects celebrated in the 2021 list include the restoration of the Australian bush after devastating wildfires, conservation projects in Rwanda, the revitalization of Medellín in Columbia and the introduction of progressive climate solutions in Gothenburg, Sweden.