Assess the carbon footprint of Irish Tourism and developing a stakeholder based decarbonising toolkit

Examining good practice dark sky tourism (DST) initiatives among Irish tourism and hospitality stakeholders

Principal Investigators and prepared by:

Anita Conefrey (ATU Sligo) and Dr. James Hanrahan (ATU Sligo).

Additional supervision: Dr John Carty (ATU Galway City) and Dr Conor Mc Tiernan (ATU Killybegs, Donegal).

Mathematical Modeling: Dr Leo Creedon (ATU Sligo).

Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humankind. The purpose of this report is to provide the first baseline carbon footprint for tourism in the Republic of Ireland – which is based on a consumption-based view and does not include outbound Irish tourists. Thus, providing Ireland’s tourism policymakers, planners and stakeholders with an evidence-based approach to develop appropriate tourism decarbonisation policies and strategies. Furthermore, this report will contribute to the ongoing international discussion of the importance of tourism decarbonisation, which is imperative to achieving sustainable tourism development. Climate action must play a leading role in national tourism plans, with tourism decarbonisation being the most critical element to ensure sustainable tourism development. The next stage of this research project is to encourage further collaboration amongst tourism policymakers, planners, stakeholders, and academics to develop a stakeholder-based decarbonisation toolkit for sustainable destination management in the Republic of Ireland.

Funded by ATU Sligo President Bursary.



Principal Investigators and prepared by:

Chloe Dillon (ATU Galway), Supervisor Dr John Carty (ATU Galway)

Dr John Carty and graduate student Chloe Dillon secured €10,000 funding from the ATU Galway Programme for Integration of Research and Teaching (PIRATE). 

Dark sky areas offer unique and sustainable tourism experiences, alongside numerous benefits for local communities.  The researchers sought to investigate this topic further and to identify good practices in the Irish tourism and hospitality industry.  Recommendations will also be made for policy makers at a local and national level.

Funded by ATU Galway Programme for Integration of Research and Teaching.

Sustainable Tourism Destination Management within Co. Clare: Utilising the European tourism indicator system

Sustainable Tourism Destination Management within Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands: Utilising the European tourism indicator system

Researcher: Fiona McKenna Supervisor: Dr. James Hanrahan

It is evident that the tourism sector needs to strengthen its adaptive capacity to climate and other sustainability induced impacts and to take a more proactive approach in management. This research is gathering data on County Clare’s businesses, communities and visitors in relation to its economic, social and environmental sustainability using the European Tourism Indicator System (ETIS). This research will be used as a baseline for sustainable tourism management, to analyse current state and to monitor future trends. This data will also support the destination in monitoring and measuring aspects in relation to climate change (businesses readiness for climate change, carbon footprints of tourists). The research hopes to generate tourism destination mitigation strategies to allow for the growth of sustainable tourism and to support the Clare Tourism Strategy 2030.

Collaborators include Clare County Council, the Burren Geopark Network and Visit Clare.

Funded by ATU Sligo’s President Bursary. Supported by Clare County Council.

Researcher: Fiona McKenna Supervisor: Dr. James Hanrahan

Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands’ is a recent addition to Fáilte Ireland’s tourism regional experience. It is centred around the more rural areas of Ireland (the midlands), that include natural assets such as the river Shannon, walking trails, greenways and woodlands. This research is examining implementing a sustainable tourism management system based on the European tourism indicator system (ETIS). It is gathering data on businesses, communities and visitors within Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands in relation to  its economic, social and environmental sustainability.

CollaboratorFáilte Ireland

Funded by ATU Sligo’s President Bursary.

Sustainable Destination Management for Island Tourism Measuring and Monitoring using Tourism Indicators

Operations and Supply Chain Research (OSCAR) Programme Link

Principal Investigators: Dr James Hanrahan & Diarmuid Ó Conghaile

Researcher: Colm Barcoe

Sustainable tourism in Ireland has now evolved to a stage where the measuring and monitoring of sustainable tourism indicators to facilitate evidence informed planning is essential. The implementation is best achieved with tourism indicator systems such as the European Tourism Indicator System (ETIS). To fill this gap in knowledge this study, utilising the European Tourism Indicator System, will allow the researcher from the Atlantic Technology University (ATU) to collaborate with island communities, tourism stakeholders, Udrás na Gaeltachta, Failte Ireland, destination managers, and local authorities, to better inform the sustainable management of island tourism destination. Furthermore, as the ETIS model was designed to be an easy-to-use indicator system for collecting data, island destinations can use the data over time to conduct longitudinal analysis and monitor their performance from year to year, while also allowing for comparison with other islands included in the study. 

Collaborators: Udarás na Gaeltachta, Fáilte Ireland, Galway and Donegal County Council

Funding: ATU

Principal Investigators: Dr James Hanrahan & Dr Conor McTiernan


Dr James Hanrahan and Dr Conor McTiernan are supervising two projects on the OSCAR Postgraduate Research Training Program. An analysis of tourism supply chain management to transition to the decarbonization of the Irish tourism sector and an analysis of the Irish hotel sectors sustainable operations for the growth in robots, artificial intelligence, and service automation (RAISA)

Tourists as Vectors of Potential Biosecurity Threats in Ireland

Protecting and promoting archaeological sites: Best practice for sustainable tourism along the Wild Atlantic Way

Researcher: Dr. Domhnall Melly

Supervised by: Dr. James Hanrahan

Tourist vectoring of potential biosecurity threats represent substantial biosecurity risk for Ireland. Tourist’s inadvertently transporting infectious diseases and invasive alien species (IAS) can have serious implications for human and environmental health, with ramifications for economic and socio-cultural wellbeing within host communities. The findings of this research has informed the development of a tourism biosecurity planning and management model. Tourism planners and policymakers in Ireland can utilise this model to mitigate tourism biosecurity risk through a strategic pre-border to  post-border stage approach. This could see essential tourist biosecurity communication, pathway management, and biosecurity vector mitigation measures 

alleviate the threat of future pandemics and biological invasions in Ireland. 

Collaborators and Funding

Partially funded by the ATU Masters Scholarship Fund 2019 

Researcher: Stefanie White

Supervisors: Dr Fiona Beglane, Dr Conor McTiernan and Sam Moore

The Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) is a tourism brand developed by Fáilte Ireland that extends along c. 2500km of coastline from Co. Cork to Co. Donegal. There are over 138,000 recorded archaeological sites in Ireland (NMS, 2019) and of these, c.89,000 are in counties covered by the Wild Atlantic Way (NMS, 2019), although some are situated further inland than the official 15km-wide coastal strip. {NMS,  #1955}{NMS,  #1955}{NMS,  #1955}{NMS,  #1955}These range from earthworks lying within private farmland, to internationally renowned visitor attractions such as the Céide Fields, a site that is visited by over 32,000 people per year (OPW, 2016). This research proposes to develop best practice guidelines for archaeological heritage management along the Wild Atlantic Way that reflect all stakeholders’ perspectives.

Funded by: ATU Research Bursary

Management of the Visitor Experience at Irish Craft Beverage Visitor Centres

The role of SOP’s in intra and inter organisational knowledge transfer in the hospitality industry along the Wild Atlantic Way

Researcher: Catherine White

Supervisors: Dr Conor McTiernan and Dr Elizabeth McKenzie

An increasingly important element of Irish tourism experiences is the visitation to craft beverage tourism visitor centres such as micro-breweries and micro-distilleries. As of 2019, there were 137 craft beverage producers in Ireland, an increase 105% since 2008. The rationale for this study is to explore best practices in the development of craft beverage tourism at both the single business unit and collectively at a sectoral level. This project contributes to the development of an internationally recognised, authentic and sustainable niche tourism offering that is desired by a growing number of dedicated food and beverage tourists and the culturally curious visitor. The project will benefit not only the craft beverage tourism sector, significantly it will also positively contribute to their host communities.

Funded by: ATU Donegal’s President’s Bursary

Researcher: Grainne Breslin

Supervisors: Dr Conor McTiernan and Dr Ciaran O’hAnnrachain

Modern hospitality organisations aspire to being knowledge-generating, knowledge-integrating and knowledge-protecting entities. This requires the creation, diffusion, storage and application of either existing or new knowledge. Knowledge management improves the ‘wisdom’ of the organisation, facilitates decision making and enhances innovation and performance.

This research explores how explicit and tacit knowledge can be transferred through standard operating procedures (SOP’s). This research explores the dyadic relationship between the codification of knowledge and utilisation of an appropriate taxonomy of knowledge transfer and the implications for SOP’s in the Irish hospitality industry.

Funded by: ATU Donegal’s President’s Bursary

Researchers: Dr Conor McTiernan, Ciara Quinlan and Dr Ciaran O’hAnnrachain

Tourism activities can incur real and perceived risks to tourists due to uncertainty, ambiguity and gaps in tacit knowledge. Tourism managers and stakeholders can reduce the threat of such risks through the introduction and development of trust between the tourist and the organisations and individuals they are in contact with. An established agent of risk reduction is the tourist guide.

From the visitor perspective, the tourist guide acts as their intercultural mediator and through frequency of interactions, social capital can ensue and ultimately the tourist can develop trust in the tourist guide. The purpose of this research is to identify the key indicators of trustworthiness that inform the tourists overall trust of a tourist guide in a living-with-Covid Irish tourism context.