How a County Clare community inspired sustainable tourism around the world

How a County Clare community inspired sustainable tourism around the world

We love a trailblazer, and the Burren Ecotourism Network has been leading the way for more than a decade when it comes to sustainability, pioneering ecotourism principles in Ireland.

Our Green Light award set out to celebrate a business, destination or initiative for its contribution to sustainable tourism. Its efforts will have “helped make Ireland a greener destination and provided an inspirational example,” we said.

Here’s a perfect winner. Made up of 62 tourism enterprises, from cheesemongers to carbon-neutral hotels, the Burren Ecotourism Network works to conserve the area through training, initiatives and a code of sustainable practices.

The tally of projects under its belt is impressive. Members spearhead projects like community clean-ups, and each business gives out Burren Bags — tote bags that can be filled with rubbish found when guests are out exploring.

Businesses can adopt hedgerows and undergo biodiversity training, and they also support the Burren Pine Project, which aims to restore Ireland’s only native pine species, previously believed to have been extinct.

But it’s not just sustainability projects. In May 2020, the network launched a visitor voucher that could be spent among any of the members, and it also held two festivals completely virtually during the pandemic — the Burren Food Fayre and Burren Slow Food Festival.

“We joined about nine years ago,” said Áine Martin, Green Team Leader at Hotel Doolin, which was Ireland’s first hotel to become carbon neutral. “It’s very beneficial to us. Part of the ethos of the network is to promote other businesses in the community, and there are lots we wouldn’t know about unless they were members.”

The world has taken notice too. In 2020, Lonely Planet named it one of the world’s Best Community Tourism Projects and “a global leader for sustainable tourism”.

This is an excerpt from an article by Nicola Brady, originally published by

Travindy is an independent website featuring news and opinion on all issues to do with tourism and sustainability. Written primarily for an industry audience, our aim is to support the transformation of the sector into one that is regenerative, restorative and fully inclusive.

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