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Corrs Corner

Editor Frank Corr gives his views on the hospitality and tourism industries, shares anecdotes and gossip and welcomes your contributions.

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Topless Leo

What's this?- a topless Minister for Tourism.

Leo Varadkar must be the fittest ever Minister for Tourism. Not only does he participate in triathalons and road races, he also likes to get out of his Ministerial suit and dive into the pool.

Just this week he was doing lengths to encourage more people to go swimming.

Swim Ireland’s ‘Swim for a Mile Challenge’ is a swimming initiative set up to encourage people in Ireland to get back into the pool. Swim Ireland coaches have written swimming programmes that will enable those who can swim a little to swim a mile in just 12 weeks.

Free coaching sessions are available in a number of pools around the country. For more information log on to www.swimforamile.com

And could our Leo be the next Taoiseach?

Well- remember where Enda started his Ministerial career.

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Videos Make Hotel Stars

The choice by Oprah Winfrey, of a video of the song 'Happy' made in Donegal for her upcoming 'Special' illustrates just how effective quirky home-made videos can be.

It is now possible to make perfectly good videos with just a smartphone and a fairly steady hand and it is also easy to upload these videos to YouTube and other media sites. Most of the posted videos of course, are watched by only a handful of close friends, but occasionally they go 'viral' and attract millions of viewers.

Hotels, who now use social media extensively in their marketing programmes, could profit from making simple, humourous video clips and posting them on YouTube. They might involve chefs messing about in the kitchen, accommodation staff checking under beds for left items or fun in the garden. At worst they can be e-mailed to a customer database and there is always the chance of 'virality'- and maybe Oprah.

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Drive for Ireland

Failte Ireland is placing a heavy emphasis on motoring breaks this year as it launched the Wild Atlantic Way. A sponsored supplement in yesterday's 'Sunday Times' included a handy map of WAW which begins at the Old Head of Kinsale and runs all the way to Malin Head in Donegal. Along the way, Failte Ireland has identified 14 'Signature Discovery Points' of which three (Old Head of Kinsale, Mizen Head and Dursey Island) are in Cork, just one (Blaskets View) is in Kerry, two (Loop Head and Cliffs of Moher) are in Clare, one (Derrigimlagh- also surely the least known), is in Galway, three (Killary Harbour Keem Strand and Downpatrick Head) are in Mayo, one (Mullaghmore Head ) is in Sligo and three (Sliabh League, Fanad Head and Malin Head) are in Donegal.

Car hire companies and hoteliers are taking a keen interest in the route with hotels from various counties joining together to offer accommodation packages. I have yet to meet anyone who has driven the full route, but one intrepid motorist who went from Limerick to Mullaghmore tells me that in Winter it is difficult to find places for a coffee stop or lunch along much of WAW- but that will surely change once the seasonun gets under way.

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Bug Snacks in 'Pestaurant'

Rentokil, the pest-control company is encouraging people to sample edible grubs and insects in a pop-up 'Pestaurant'.

Snacks on offer will include salted weaver ants, barbecued mole crickets and chocolate-dipped worms.

As part of its 80th birthday celebrations, Rentokil Initial is hosting what it terms a pop-up ‘pestaurant’ in Killarney on 11th. May.

The company, which is the largest pest control outfit in the country, wants to highlight that insects are a viable food alternative.

Europe remains the only continent where edible insects don’t appear on regular menus. A number of different bodies, including the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, see insects as a viable solution to feeding the world’s rapidly growing population.

Many insects are rich in protein, zinc, calcium and iron while also being low in fat. They also have a high “feed conversion rate”, meaning they can be farmed using relatively little land, water and energy compared to livestock.

 

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Back to Basics

Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar told the RAI Conference this week about a 'very productive' meeting he had with Paul O'Toole, ceo of the new Solas training agency, regarding the future training of hospitality staff.

Both men are aware of the yawning gap which now exists in the training area with Failte Ireland abandoning craft training and nobody around to do it. As a result restaurants have great difficulty in finding skilled chefs and, to a lesser extent, servers.

Minister Varadkar talked about the need to find 'the right space' for chef qualifications, so that trainees entering the industry can perform without being over-qualified. He is on the button in this. Young chefs hardly need to learn about the history and culture of gastronomy or the finer points of the culinary arts. They need to know hygiene practices, have basic preparation and cooking skills and the stamina for long hours of work on basic pay.

The former CERT did this training exceptionally well in a 13 week course which saw thousands of young people find jobs in the industry during the 'Good Old Days' of the 1990s. All Solas needs to do is get a hold of those training manuals and start again.

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Editor: Frank Corr
fcorr100@gmail.com


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