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A taste of heaven on Earth awaits tourists at prizewinning Irish Eden destination.
On arrival, many tourists may feel that they have arrived in Paradise - the local welcome is so warm and fulsome!
The fact is that Loop Head Peninsula in Co. Clare has got about everything that makes a fantastic destination except a sustainable flow of regular, committed tourists…yet
Nestling between statuesque Atlantic rollers and the beautiful Shannon estuary, the peninsula has a heaven-sent tourism inventory - it is home to stunning scenery, lovely clean beaches, mind-boggling undersea swims, wonderful bird life, fabulous food and hospitality - even its own substantial pod of 100+ friendly dolphins.
The three major destination areas on the peninsula, no more than 20 kilometres away from each other, complement each others’ offers and deliver a vast range of natural tourism delights.
The pretty seaside resort of Kilkee boasts its own very child-friendly horse-shoe shaped, gently sloping blue flag beach, lovely walks, superb fishing, sailing and amazing diving. Tourists can even enjoy a unique and very healthy seaweed spa to relax after a hard day of maritime enjoyment.
At the nearby port of Carrigaholt on the Shannon estuary it’s possible to get up close to the sensational other-worldly coastal cliff formations (part of a world-class 340 million year old carboniferous sedimentary basin) and take a boat ride to meet the delightful dolphins waiting for their fish supper - salmons swim towards them as the tide ebbs and flows.
The pretty harbour village of Kilbaha, close to the magnificent historic Loop Head Lighthouse, has become a real artist’s colony for very good reason - the scenery, the wild walks and the natural unspoilt attractions (including fabulously romantic hanging gardens) appeal to the artist in everyone.
Other Loop Head natural attractions include a superb bird life and astonishingly healthy air and a wealth of potential.
And the local tourist group is now busy marking walking and cycling trails to show the way to tourists who want to explore the picturesque scenery and hear all the magical Celtic myths and legends associated with this friendly place.
It’s likely too that the paths will provide well-trodden tracks for tourists to some of the best and freshest food in the world. They can experience a rich fish chowder that changes every day with the catch landed just a few metres from the kitchen; they can savour the very best of ultra-fresh ocean catches; superb local cheeses; they can try amazing bread that is baked fresh in-house (hardly surprising as most local families create their own bread each day) and wash it all down with well-kept stout in remarkably good company.
So why the paucity of tourists?
Loop Head Peninsula is that classic example of a well-kept tourism secret - now perhaps a little too well kept. As recently as the 1970’s the area was a thriving and very regular summer holiday destination for domestic tourists who were then tempted by low cost flights to European summer sun destinations and deserted their childhood holiday spot.
And incoming tourists to Ireland have frequently followed the trek to the country’s well-known big-time destinations forsaking its little-known natural attractions.
But, of course, tourism fashion is changing. More and more tourists value the authenticity and glorious natural attractions that such unspoiled destinations as Loop Head offer. Indeed, they are prepared to pay a premium for such high quality unspoiled experiences.
The committed local tourism group who see the opportunity and are determined to make the tourism industry work in the area have a number of advantages - they are committed to, and understand their home area, they deliver an astonishingly high level of hospitality completely naturally, they wish to make sure that tourism benefits go to making theirs a sustainable community, but above all - they realize their privilege in living in such a beautiful and sensitive place and wish to share it - sustainably - with their guests.
The coming visitors are certain to fall in love and will cherish this delightful place as much as their hosts clearly do - creating a tourism initiative that delivers long term benefits to both happy guests and proud hosts.
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