WITH COSTS continuing to grow, throwing the financial viability of the event into question, the local Council has warned it will have to make a decision on whether to progress with this year’s ‘FEARmanagh’ event.
In a report due to be delivered to the Council’s regeneration and community committee last night (Wednesday), director of regeneration and planning, Kim McLaughln, outlined how the autumn event had been growing in popularity, but so too had the costs of running it.
The endurance event, which attracts serious competitors from across the country and beyond, is organised by the Council’s tourism development service, with support from staff at its Killyvilly depot as well as volunteers from the Derrygonnelly and District Community Partnership and the Derrygonnelly Community Centre Association.
“The purpose of establishing the event was to showcase the west Fermanagh landscape and attract participants and their families to stay for a night in the shoulder season, generating economic benefit to the Derrygonnelly area,” stated Ms McLaughlin in the report.
“It was anticipated that, over time, the local community groups would take over the operation of the event as a rural community tourism initiative.”
Ms McLaughlin noted FEARmanagh – which involves running, cycling and kayaking on minor roads and forest tracks around the stunning Derrygonnelly area – had been growing, with 420 participants in 2021.
This year’s event is planned to take place on Saturday, September 24th, however Ms McLaughlin said evidence of the event’s economic benefit was “limited”, as “most participants return home directly after the event.”
She also noted the costs of hosting the race were continuing to grow, particularly with the current economic challenges.
For example, Ms McLaughlin pointed out that the cost to deliver the event in 2021 was just over £27,000. Entry fee income was £18,000, and the Council contributed £6,000 initially and a further £3,000 to meet its shortfall.
“In the current year, it is now estimated that event costs will exceed £40,000 due to several factors, including equipment and venue hire and fuel costs” said Ms McLaughlin.
“Current estimates suggest that the expected shortfall is likely to be between £10,000-£15,000, for which only £6,000 has been included in the tourism events budget.”
In her report councillors will now have to consider, Ms McLaughlin concluded, “A decision is now required in terms of progressing with the event given the increasing anticipated financial shortfall.”
She added if it was decided to proceed with FEARmanagh, an independent analysis would be needed to assess its “economic impact and social value” against its cost and other “relevant outcomes.”
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