Launch of Micheál Mac Gréil SJ’s Westport report
Fr Micheál Mac Gréil SJ’s latest book on Westport, a report based on a survey of the views of visitors to the Co. Mayo town, was launched on 1 July by Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport & Media. The book, entitled Westport: Where visitors feel at home, was commissioned by Westport Tourism Organisation.
A renowned sociologist, academic and activist, Fr Mac Gréil has published many books, papers and reports on social issues and attitudes in Ireland. Though he was born in Co. Laois, he grew up near Westport and was educated by the Christian Brothers there. He has kept up this strong association with the town since then. The current report is the fifth time since 1987 that he has directed a survey of the attitudes and opinions of visitors to Westport and compiled the results in a report. Nearly 250 visitors were interviewed in 2019 for this report, and around 180 questionnaires were completed by service providers in the area, mostly addressing such issues as accommodation, value for money, indoor and outdoor activities, and visitor experiences. The last chapter, written against the background of the Covid-19 pandemic, includes suggestions by the author on how to continue improving Westport as a tourist destination.
In his launch address, Fr Mac Gréil pays particular attention to what he calls ‘the democratisation of tourism’ – seeing annual leave as a human right and extending it to all citizens. He notes that it is usually the disadvantaged in both urban and rural society who find themselves unable to enjoy holidays, specifically “the unemployed, the poorly paid, people with a disability and those under the poverty line”. In a truly democratic society, he asserts, “social tourism, funded by the state primarily, should be the norm”.
The launch took place outside the Town Hall Theatre, Westport. You can view proceedings here »