A new Irish tourism organisation - the National Association of Visitor Experiences and Attractions – will hold its inaugural forum in Kilkenny next Tuesday.
The forum – a meeting of 60 of Ireland’s leading visitor attractions - will take place at Kilkenny Castle and in the Medieval Mile Museum.
Launched in May, the Association is officially up and running since September with more businesses joining every week and it already boasts three Kilkenny sites.
Colette Byrne, chief executive of Kilkenny County Council and chairperson of Kilkenny Civic Trust said: “AVEA already has three members from Kilkenny; The Castle, The Smithwicks Experience and The Medieval Mile Museum.
“Where better than a Medieval Castle and Ireland’s Medieval Mile to convene the first meeting of AVEA members?
“Tourism is very important to Kilkenny city and county and our rich tapestry of build and natural heritage are pivotal to motivating visitors to come here.
“We have and will continue to invest and support tourism as a key component of our local economy.”
Paul Carty, Guinness Storehouse Managing Director and Chairman of AVEA, will open the forum taking place in Kilkenny Castle.
He said: “Visitor Experiences and Attractions are key drivers of the business of tourism in Ireland - we are a huge part of what motivates overseas visitors to come to Ireland.
“Attractions and experiences tell the stories of Ireland through the ages and we are blessed with some of the most spectacular sites around the country.
“What we add to the overall destination experiences are holiday memories that endure a lifetime and, when shared, encourage even more visitors to come to this great Island year after year.”
This inaugural forum meeting marks the first time that the sector has come together to engage on matters that impact on performance and explore how AVEA can deliver on its core objectives.
John Ruddle, chief executive Shannon Heritage and board member of AVEA said: “[The forum] is about listening and hearing from our members how we can support them.
“It’s also about members meeting members in a setting that encourages collaboration and good engagement, where people are meeting like-minded businesses and sharing knowledge and expertise – it’s a very positive experience and one we intend to repeat regularly.”
Guest speaker at the event, Paul Keeley, Director Business Development at Fáilte Ireland, welcomed the establishment of AVEA saying, that "Fáilte Ireland is very pleased to support AVEA in terms of advice and funding".
AVEA is a national membership organization established to provide a strong voice for this sector within the Tourism Industry
Membership is open to all Visitor Attractions and Experiences.