Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development authority, has announced their shortlist of the "Ten Top Tourism Towns in Ireland" which have been selected for the 2014 Tourism Towns Award. The shortlist was announced as part of the National Tidy Towns Awards, held in The Helix in Dublin.
The shortlisted towns are:
• Ardmore, Waterford [small town]

• Carrick on Shannon, Leitrim [small town]

• Glengarriff, Cork [small town]

• Kinsale, Cork [small town]

• Lismore, Waterford [small town]

• Portmagee, Kerry [small town]

• Killarney, Kerry [large town]

• Cobh, Cork [large town]

• Westport, Mayo [large town]

• Kilkenny [large town]

As part of their short listing, the selected towns have already been subject (over the last few weeks) to a series of unannounced inspections from a crack team of independent ‘secret shoppers’ who visited each location and assessed the quality of visitor experience to be had.
The Tourism Town Award focuses on how participating towns have developed their local area in the following key tourism areas:

• Sense of Place – How the town tells its own unique story to visitors, what’s special about it and what distinguishes it from other towns.

• Tourism Experiences – What the town has to offer visitors.

• Local Involvement in Developing Tourism- How the local community works together to provide an authentic visitor experience.

• Development and promotion of the town – How the town takes a unified approach to marketing and developing the town into a “tourism town.”
Welcoming the shortlist, Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring emphasized the important premise behind the Award scheme: “This award is all about recognizing those Irish towns, villages and communities which are putting their weight behind tourism and working hard to make their town even more attractive for tourists. I hope that the towns and villages shortlisted today will be an inspiration for other communities around Ireland.”
Fiona Buckley from Fáilte Ireland, speaking at the launch today said, “This award provides a tangible recognition of those magic ingredients which give the Irish welcome a unique advantage – people, place and passion."
Two overall winners will ultimately share the ultimate accolade of Ireland’s top Tourism Town, one for the best large town and the best small town, when the winners are unveiled, in November, by Fáilte Ireland following further assessments from the independent panel of judges.
For more from Zack see www.IrishFoodGuide.ie.