The Barrow Study 03: the objectives

More on WI’s 2012 publication The Barrow Corridor Recreational, Tourism and Commercial Product Identification Study, this time the objectives.

In 2.4 there is one main objective supported by eleven subsidiary “objectives to achieve this vision”. The main objective is

To improve the economy of the Barrow area, increase jobs and enhance the quality of life for local people […].

Sounds fine to me. The subsidiary objectives are:

1. Raising the profile of the River Barrow and area to the sightseers and culture seekers market through providing a river long itinerary based on historic houses, castles and gardens and information to support a visit based on ecclesiastical heritage.

2. Making the most of the new M9 motorway and its junctions to draw attention to the River Barrow and its attractions and services.

3. Encouraging those visiting Kilkenny, Waterford and Dublin to travel through the area and visit its main attractions.

4. Assisting the tourism trade to benefit from the increased visibility of the Barrow corridor and to produce products that appeal to both the specialist activity and the sightseers and culture seekers markets.

5. Improving the experience of the specialist cruising visitor to the Barrow and its estuary to encourage more new visits, second visits and referrals and thereby to improve the sustainability of cruise hire businesses on the waterway.

6. Raising the profile of the Barrow Way as a very high quality walk in Ireland and a ‘must-do’ experience for both domestic and overseas walkers.

7. Developing further the reputation of the Barrow and Barrowline for angling and develop quality, high visibility bespoke products in conjunction with accommodation providers.

8. Introducing people in Ireland and overseas to the outstanding nature and wildlife experiences that are to be had on the Barrow and the Barrow and Nore estuaries.

9. Presenting the heritage of the Barrow Corridor to visitors in an appealing and sustainable way.

10. Increasing the visibility of the Barrow and Nore estuaries as an area for coastal cruising.

11. Working in partnership with Waterways Ireland in promoting the assets of the canal and river from a boating and walking point of view.

It is not clear whether these objectives were set before the study or derived from it. Furthermore, it is not clear whether relationships between these objectives have been teased out. It might be helped if they were reorganised.

Housekeeping

“Housekeeping”, to me, is the sort of backroom stuff that should not concern the customer: it is about how things are made, services provided and so on, rather than about what is being provided to whom. Three objectives seem to fit into that category:

 4. Assisting the tourism trade to benefit from the increased visibility of the Barrow corridor and to produce products that appeal to both the specialist activity and the sightseers and culture seekers markets.

9. Presenting the heritage of the Barrow Corridor to visitors in an appealing and sustainable way.

11. Working in partnership with Waterways Ireland in promoting the assets of the canal and river from a boating and walking point of view.

Those objectives don’t do anything to define the product or identify the customer (which is not to say that they’re unimportant). However, the remaining objectives do identify both products and customers, although it is not clear which came first.

Products

The objectives implicitly identify several products, many of them matched by appropriate customers (see below):

  • objective 1 has “a river long itinerary based on historic houses, castles and gardens and information to support a visit based on ecclesiastical heritage”. Note that there is no mention of either English Norman heritage or industrial heritage. Note too that a “river long itinerary” will not appeal to those passing through the area (see below)
  • objective 5 mentions “cruising” (a strange term used only, as far as I can see, by folk in tourism authorities — and by certain others to refer to different activities). It mentions cruise hire businesses on the waterway; it is not clear whether it includes cruising for boat-owners based on the Barrow or based elsewhere
  • objective 6 covers the Barrow Way, which seems to be a long-distance walk. What makes it “a very high quality walk” is not stated
  • objective 7 is about angling and accommodation
  • objective 8 is about nature and wildlife, or rather about  nature and wildlife experiences
  • objective 10 is about boating  (“cruising”) the tidal Barrow and Nore.

Customers

Some of the objectives identify potential customers:

  • objective 1 covers the “sightseers and culture seekers” market
  • objective 2 is about grabbing people who are just passing through using the M9, and objective 3 is about those visiting  Kilkenny, Waterford and Dublin. It seems to me that these people are, almost by definition, travelling by road and making (at best) short visits to the Barrow area
  • objectives 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10 are about people who already have specific interests (inland boating, walking, angling, wildlife, coastal boating).

Note therefore that:

  • local people are not mentioned in the subsidiary objectives, which means that the distinction between recreation and tourism, which was made in the Terms of Reference, has now disappeared
  • the only tourist segment catered for (other than one-day visitors) is the “sightseekers and culture seekers”. They’re one of Fáilte Ireland’s seven market segments [PDF] and account for about 60% of tourists to Ireland.

Fit

It is not clear to me why tourism folk don’t give more attention to those who don’t come here than to those who do, but that’s by the way. The oddity in this context is that five of the objectives are about folk who (if I’m understanding the appalling jargon properly) would fall into two other Fáilte Ireland segments, Outdoor Actives and Relaxers. I’m not clear, therefore, how the study objectives are deemed to fit with the marketing strategies of Waterways Ireland and Fáilte Ireland.

Furthermore, it is not clear whether the products or the customers were defined first. That reflects the fact that readers are not told where the objectives came from: are they inputs to or outputs from the study? And whichever they were, by what process, and by whom, were they developed?

It would be interesting to know whether the list of objectives simply started with things visitors already do on the Barrow and constructed objectives to match or whether the objectives are derived from some unidentified market analysis.

Finally, because the objectives are not explicitly discussed in Chapters 3, 6 and 7, it’s not clear how well the action programme proposals match the objectives.

On to the assessment and audit.

 

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