The theme of “Town Centres and Tourism” was explored during the 2021 Business Briefing hosted by Wicklow County Council on Thursday last (March 25th).
The virtual briefing was held as part of the Council’s ongoing commitment to economic development and had participation from over 120 leading local and national businesspeople, along with representatives from key local and State agencies.
This was the fifth annual Business Briefing but unlike previous years, this year’s event was held online.
Welcoming the guests and speakers, Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr Pat Kennedy, outlined the importance of ongoing communication between the business community and Wicklow County Council, with particular emphasis on enterprise and economic development.
Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council, Mr Frank Curran, delivered an update on the various developments in County Wicklow, focussing on those of particular interest to the business community.
Keynote speakers were Mr David Fitzsimons, Crest Ireland and formerly of Retail Excellence Ireland, who spoke about reviving town centres; and Ruth Andrews, Chair of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) and recent Chair of the Tourism Recovery Taskforce, who spoke about tourism recovery.
In his presentation, Mr Fitzsimons outlined the importance of Town Teams and having a clear plan for the future of towns, noting that the bigger towns in County Wicklow were embracing this strategy. He spoke about revitalising Main Street and the move away from out-of-town shopping centres.
Ms Andrews, a native of Wicklow and key figure in the tourism sector, spoke about the challenges facing the industry and outlined the various supports available to assist businesses throughout COVID-19 and during the re-opening period.
The presentations were followed by a panel discussion, with questions submitted by the attendees and responses provided by the panel. MC for the event was Alan Shortt from Mediaskills, who kept the conversation flowing.