The People & Place Programme Report

Introduction

The People & Place Programme was managed by the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC) on behalf of the Overseas Tourism Marketing Initiative (OTMI) and funded by the ERDF through the Department of Tourism, Sport and Recreation. It was also funded by Bord Failte, OTML, CERT and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

The “Core Values”

This programme came about as a result of the OTMI “Consumer Journeys” research, conducted in the USA, Germany, France and the UK. This research showed that friendly, hospitable people, combined with a beautiful and unspoiled natural environment, are the “core values” of Irish tourism as perceived by our overseas customers. It is these values that set us apart and give us a competitive advantage over rival tourism destinations. Indeed, the “people” value – friendly people who facilitate warm and spontaneous interaction between the host population and visitors to Ireland – is a “unique selling point”. No other competing tourism destination is seen as offering a matching experience.
Objectives

Most people involved with the tourism industry are fully aware of the importance of Ireland’s core values. However, many see issues such as unfriendliness and environmental insensitivity on the part of the host population as outside their, or the industry’s power to influence. The objective of this project was to sensitise those directly and indirectly connected with tourism to the role that they can and should play in sustaining and improving upon the values. Too often, issues surrounding the social and physical environment can be seen as “everybody’s responsibility and nobody’s responsibility”. this project aimed to create an impetus through which:

  • Participants at all levels throughout the tourism industry would acknowledge that they could, and should, play a role in protecting and developing the core values.
  • Participants would identify and commit to a range of appropriate actions to “maintain and enhance” Ireland’s competitive advantage. Once commenced, these activities would ideally continue beyond the lifetime of the project.
  • As participants worked together in a cross-sectoral and cross-functionsl way, a model of collaboration would be developed which could be replicated throughout the industry.

Approach Taken (Terms of Reference)

The Report outlined the following actions:

  • A Steering Group was formed, comprising key representatives of the industry, and a Project Manager was appointed.
  • A Baseline Study was commissioned in July 1999 from Lansdowne Market Research to establish awareness of, and attitudes to, the environmental (physical and social) components of the Irish tourism product.
  • Impact indicators, both quantitative and qualitative, were agreed with the programme evaluators, Fizpatrick Associates.
  • A programme was designed in consultation with the industry, Alexander Dunlop Ltd and Newmarket Consulting. The approach was tested at a major industry session at the Dublin Writers Museum on 9th September 1999, attended by 70 participants, and subsequently modified.
  • A two-day facilitator training session was run on 27th/28th September in preparation for the main event of the programme on 29th September.
  • On September 29th, 1999, a day-long workshop and brainstorming event – the “Seeding Event” – took place at Dublin Castle, attended by approximately 115 people from throughout the industry and from some industry-related organisations. The objective of the day was to explore the concept of sustainable tourism, and identify priority actions needed to sustain and develop the core values. These actions formed the basis of six pilot projects that would depend on the voluntary input of the industry.

The six projects are:

  • Core Values Awareness Generation
  • People & Place Awards
  • Education Project
  • Environmental Initiative
  • Regional Distribution
  • Public Authority/Industry Partnership

Summary

The People & Place programme had at its centre the mobilisation of the industry to resolve some of the critical challenges facing the continued delivery of the core values and the unique “experience” that Ireland offers as a tourist destination. This meant essentially “recruiting the industry. The programme was built on voluntarism on a huge scale. This voluntairsm was essential to complete the work on the six projects under the guidance of the Steering Group and the consultants.
Comments

The programme has been widely welcomed across the Tourist Industry itself. It has been hailed as an important initiative at a time when the industry is addressing some of the problems of success. A strategy to implement the People & Place programme on an industry wide basis has been developed by the Research Steering group.

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