Tourism has always been important to Donegal Town - and indeed the county in general. When I came home in 1970, there was probably about 40 hotel beds in town and none on the periphery. Now overall, its more like 500 - and that is not counting B&B and guesthouse capacity.
Judging by our survey alongside, this Easter seems to have been a mixed bag in town. While no-one disputes that there were a large number of day-trippers around, there didnt seem to be any undue pressure on the accommodation providers - though most managed to fill. In the old days, the two biggest periods of the year were the Easter and August weekends - demand was so severe you could often ring places 50-60 miles away to try and get a place for people to lay their heads.
This seems to have changed - all weekends are now busy but things have evened out. Irish people now can as easily, and cheaply, head abroad as stay in their native country.
The enormous numbers that turned up for the vintage car sale at the Mill Park on Sunday shows what happens when an attraction is in place. That is why the upcoming launch of the new Waterbus is so important - also why other enticements to draw people to the area are vital.
The Railway Societys ambition to lay a mile of track should be encouraged - no matter what commercial development takes place in this area, a way should be left clear for this group to achieve its objective of running a train out to Gorrells, possibly linking up to Bennetts Drumlonagher site. Indeed it would be no harm for the Westmeath philanthropist to throw a few bob in the direction of this admirable venture.
The jewel in Donegal Towns crown is undoubtedly the castle and it is admirably kept and run by head-man, Sean McLoone. But it has more potential. The Manor House needs to be roofed so that entertainments can be run there - Bunratty style. This would be a tremendous magnet in attracting a night crowd to town.
The Diamond needs to become a more vibrant area. When something like the French Market situates there, the whole town lights up and the buzz is palpable! Its a unique urban centre setting - but for 350 days of the year it lies empty.
The sewerage scheme must get under way as quickly as possible. If the bay area was cleaned up there would be no natural amenity in the country to match it. Marina, boating, water sports - there is no end to its possibilities. We also need the ancillary facilities in the quay area.
Killybegs is expanding its maritime traditions - Ardara has discovered a festival niche - the naturalness of the terrain and scenery in-thro sells itself - it is what people want when they travel west. Donegal Town must also play to its strengths.
Tourists and internal visitors have multi-choice, a lot of them cheaper and more varied than staying at home. If we are to hold our reputation as a holiday and short-stay destination, we will have to work at it and must provide the attractions that will draw and hold our guests. The day of Donegal sitting back and expecting the visitors to just arrive in numbers is gone forever.