Does Sustainability Influence Your Castle Choice?
The first wind farm in Ireland was completed in 1992 at Bellacorrick, Co. Mayo and, since then, wind farms have elicited a range of reactions from Irish people. But what about visitors to Ireland?
Ireland’s scenery has been a cornerstone of international tourism marketing campaigns for decades. In 2012, 91% of overseas holidaymakers to Ireland rated scenery as an important part of a destination with natural/unspoilt environment also rated highly at 91%. For me personally, I struggle with the location of many wind farms that spoil the beauty of the natural landscape.
However I am also concerned about the carbon footprint that we as individuals leave behind, as well as tourism businesses.
I remember driving through a wind farm in the USA over 20 years ago and we must have driven for 40 minutes through it. It was out of the way and, in fact, this added to its beauty; it was not affecting the landscape, by distorting a beautiful view...in fact it has become an amazing space and view on its own merit.
Yes, I hear you say...the US has the space...of course it does, but that makes it even more crucial that local planners in Ireland are more sensitive to Ireland’s scenery.
Remember, sustainability begins at home – home grown and locally sourced ingredients used in the kitchen; local guides and other experts being employed to deliver additional experiences for guests staying at hospitality venues. I was encouraged when spending time at Lismore Castle, which incidentally is doing all of the above and more...
Despite a higher level of activities at the castle and increased occupancy, Lismore has managed to reduce its carbon footprint from 32.5 tonnes per activity unit to 26 tonnes in just two years. When they offset this against their 720 hectares of sustainably managed forest, it means that travelling to Lismore means a zero carbon footprint for all their guests.
As we see an increase, the negative response tourists have to wind farms in Ireland, now at just over 20%, will continue to grow as these become more a part of the landscape. This becomes a big challenge for local planners.
This will start to become a stronger element linked to customer choice, meaning that sustainable and environmentally friendly practices go hand-in-hand with world-class guest experiences delivered by local teams.
Well done Lismore Castle...all without a landscape filled with wind turbines!