Michael Ring, Ireland's Minister for Tourism and Sport, and Fáilte Ireland are inviting applications from eligible towns across Ireland for the 2015 Tourism Towns Award.

Now in its fourth year, the award, which is granted by Fáilte Ireland, recognizes those Irish towns and villages where the local community goes the extra mile to enhance their appeal to tourists.

A true Tourism Town must meet some minimum standards of presentation, with the eligible towns for the competition being those that ranked in the top 100 Tidy Towns for 2014. All eligible towns are being contacted directly with the closing date for applications set for Friday, June 12, 2015.

Last year, Westport was crowned the 2014 National Large Tourism Town with Kinsale taking home the title of Small Tourism Town, with each receiving a certificate along with a €5,000 grant towards further developing itself as a tourism destination.

“This award is all about recognizing Irish towns and villages which have really gone the extra mile to make Ireland even more attractive for tourists.  Tourism isn’t just a business, it’s a community industry and that’s why the whole community has a role in supporting tourism. I would encourage all the eligible towns to apply to Fáilte Ireland this year and look forward to hearing the overall winners later in the year,” said Minister Ring.

The award will continue to focus 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. 

Local Involvement - how the local community works together to provide an authentic visitor experience.

Tourism Experiences – what the town has to offer visitors; promotion of the town – how the town takes a unified approach to marketing and promoting the town as a “tourism town.”

Paddy Mathews, Head of Investment & Innovation with Fáilte Ireland, emphasized the important characteristics of a tourism town and the how the award scheme seeks to recognize them:

“For us a good tourism town is all about the role of the community in welcoming visitors and telling the story of the local area which adds significantly to the enjoyment that visitors have.

“These are towns that have already performed well in the Tidy Towns Competition in 2014, so we know that they are clean and well presented. Now we want to know how well they present themselves to their visitors.

“We have taken great care in drawing up the assessment criteria, ensuring that towns receiving an award have enhanced the experience of their visitors, improved their local ‘tourism offering’ and encouraged community wide participation in the development of local tourism.”