A new island resident survey has been launched by the ATU (Atlantic Technological University) to gather the perspectives of islanders, including those in Donegal, as to the sustainability of tourism on their island home and community.
The aim of the study is to enhance the understanding of the true cost and benefit of tourism to the islands, and how best to maximise the economic return for the communities, while reducing and eliminating the damage caused by tourism to the environment and the sociocultural identity of the islands.
The overall output of the study will inform planning, management, and policy considerations on and for the islands. The information gathered will also allow for knowledge sharing and comparison with other islands included in the study.
The islands in the study are include Árainn Mhóir and Oileáin Thoraí.
Third party verified and independently carried out by researchers at the ATU, the resident survey is the second stage of a wider study being conducted by ATU PhD researcher Colm Barcoe.
The study is being undertaken to measure and monitor the impact of tourism on the island economies, communities, heritages, and environment. The first stage of the study gathered the perspective of the tourists visiting each island during the 2022 season. Tourism businesses on each island will also be surveyed early in 2023.
Commenting on the next stage of the study, principal investigator Dr James Hanrahan (ATU) says “the cornerstone of all sustainable Island tourism is the voice of the community to ensure authentic collaborative evidence informed planning”.
Because of the wide reach of this study, the ATU is being supported by Fáilte Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta and Donegal County Councils.
Commenting on the support for the project, principal investigator Diarmuid Ó Conghaile (ATU) says “we could not do this study without the generous support of Fáilte Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta, and Galway and Donegal County Councils. This study will not only shape the future of sustainable tourism management and planning on and for the islands, it will also inform the future strategies of our support partners, both on a regional and national level.”
Meadbh Seoighe, Tourism Executive with Údarás na Gaeltachta says “Tourism is very important in rural coastal communities, it can be a driver of the economy, but it must do so in a way that respects the community rather than exploit it. This work will gather vital data and assist us to understand where we stand today in terms of the visitor and the communities view of our islands as a destination. Údarás na Gaeltachta strongly supports this initiative.”
Dáithí Gallagher, Wild Atlantic Way Team Manager for the Gaeltacht and the Islands says “for over a decade, Fáilte Ireland has used the internationally recognised VICE Model for Sustainable Tourism. This identifies sustainable tourism as the interaction between Visitors, the Industry that provides services to them, the Community and culture that hosts them and their collective impact on and response to the Environment where it all takes place. This study being carried out by ATU will address the educational, societal, economic and environmental needs of 6 of our Wild Atlantic Way island communities. The research itself, once complete, will better inform tourism development agencies when it comes to the sustainable management of island tourism destinations.”
Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr. Liam Blaney says that he is delighted that Donegal County Council is involved in this project saying “the islands are such a unique part of life in Donegal and offer a special experience for visitors. This study will help us monitor the impact of tourism on our islands and ensure that appropriate measures are put in place to mitigate any negative impacts while allowing for sustainable and appropriate development.”
The survey is based on European and Global sustainable tourism indicators. The indicators act as a management tool, supporting destinations that want to take a sustainable approach to destination management. The indicators are also a monitoring system for collecting data and detailed information and therefore allow destinations to monitor their performance from one year to another, and also make comparisons with other islands.
PhD researcher Colm Barcoe and Dr James Hanrahan of ATU are appealing to residents of the islands in the study to have their say. According to Dr Hanrahan, “Resident participation is essential when measuring and monitoring tourism destinations. All input is strictly confidential and will be utilised in the process of evidence-informed sustainable planning for tourism on the islands.”
The survey can be accessed by scanning the QR code below or via the following link: https://q9wms910ydb.typeform.com/to/LhAOIvwo.
A printed, paper version of the survey will be available from the postmaster on each island. For those who have difficulty in completing the online survey, or have any general queries please contact Colm.Barcoe@research.atu.ie.