ICRT work in partnership with tourism stakeholders to devise and implement pragmatic strategies and plans that maximise the tourism development potential of destinations, creating positive and maintainable economic impacts, whilst ensuring environmental sustainability.

The consultancy team is led by James Chilton, an expert in strategic tourism and recreation planning with over 15 years experience in the industry.

Underpinning the work of the ICRT consultancy is a belief that that the development of tourism must be acheivable, practical, evidence-based and responsible.

Our clients include central and local government, private companies and community based tourism development organisations. We are also happy to partner with other companies on particular projects and have done so on many occassions in Ireland and internationally.

Services include:

  • Destination planning at a local or regional level
  • Responsible Tourism advice
  • Trail development
  • Tourism feasibility studies
  • Policy and strategy development

If you have a project you would like to discuss call James on +353 (0)86 336 2523 or contact


'James Chilton has worked on a number of consultancy projects with Failte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, since 2006. This work has primarily been in the area of planning and sustainable tourism development. His work for the Authority has always been of the highest professional standard. His reports have brought and continue to bring interesting and new insights to the field of sustainable tourism which are of great value to Failte Ireland.'

Paddy Mathews, Head of Innovation & Investment, Failte Ireland

Project ExperienceShow all | Hide all

  • Connemara Coast & Aran Islands Visitor Experience Development Plan

    Client: Fáilte Ireland                                                                                              Date: 2017

    James worked with TEAM to produce a Visitor Experience Development Plan for the Connemara Coast and the three Aran Islands. Following a pilot visitor experience development plan for the Skelligs Coast in 2016, this plan aims to identify, in collaboration with the local community and trade those experiences that would be of most interest to visitors to the Wild Atlantic Way. The objective is to encourage visitors to stay for longer and spend more in each destination and to have a more in-depth experience of a place and the people that live there. The approach is based on the identification of a unifying compelling story for the destination, along with themes and compelling experiences for each theme, that bring that story to life. Actions, catalyst projects and enablers are identified for plan implementation.

    Responsibilities: James and Jennifer Houiellebecq from TEAM jointly wrote the VEDP. James was involved in every aspect of the plan development including:

    • Situation analysis

    • Consultation with community and trade

    • Client liaison

    • Story and theme development

    • Experience identification

    • Writing the action plan

    • Report drafting and finalisation

  • Mukhrani Village Tourism Development Plan & Action Plan (Georgia)

    Client: Foundation for the Economic Development of Mukhrani                  

    Date: 2016/2017

    James worked with Tourism Development International to prepare a destination plan and feasibility study for the rural village of Mukhrani in the Republic of Georgia. This project, initiated by the owners of a local vineyard, Chateau Mukhrani, aimed to enhance the socio-economic development of the village through the development of clustered attractions. The project had a high level steering group with support at the highest levels of government as a private-public national demonstration project. The overall development concept for Mukhrani aims to establish and promote a strong flagship attraction to be called 'Mukhrani Visitor Experience', with appropriate signage and interpretative information that forms strong linkages with three tourism zones of tourism sites and attractions (Mukhrani Fortress Neighbourhood, Dzalisi Roman site and Château Mukhrani).

    Responsibilities: James took a lead role in the development of this destination strategy including:

    • Product audit and situation analysis

    • Review of research and international best-practice

    • Consultation and site survey

    • Development of vision and action plan

    • Report preparation

  • Holy Island Visitor Management & Sustainable Tourism Development Plan

    Client: Clare County Council

    Date: 2015-2017

    Holy Island is a small unihabited island located in Lough Derg near the village of Mountshannon, Co. Clare. The island is one of the most important sites in Ireland in terms of built heritage, with several 11th & 12th Century churches as well as links to Brian Boru. Having ontained ownership of the majority of the island Clare County Council wished to enable increased numbers of visitors to visit, without impacting on the archeology or character of the place. James was part of a high-level multi-disciplinerary team, led by Soleearth Architects that undertook on the the most in-depth tourism plans in Ireland, lasting 2 years and with extensive local consultation.

    James' role focussed on the marketing and promotional aspects of the study. This included background market research consisting of:

    • site appraisal
    • visitor data analysis
    • core target market review
    • best practice case studies
    • consultation and tour operator survey

    Informed by this background research James then developed a range of recommendations. These included:

    • Market Potential (estimate of market size, impact of seasonality, visitor and ferry capacity, ferry timetabling, methods to limit visitor numbers)
    • Visitor Management (including admissions fees, visitor access, visitor facilities, facility management, interpretation guidelines)
    • Marketing & Communications Strategy (including branding strategy and digital & print media strategy)
    • Promotion & Linkages (including target market, promotional activities, themes, linkages & trails)

    A carrying capacity analysis of the island was undertaken which informed the decision to cap visitor number at 40,000 p.a. and 100 at any one time on the island. Key decisions including locating a visitor centre off the island in Mountshannon to minimise impact on the islands archeology and maximise benefit for the local community. To avoid negative impacts it was recommended that the number of tour coaches be capped at 4 per day.



  • Doolin Pier Masterplan & Visitor Centre

    Client: Clare County Council

    Date: 2016

    James worked on a in-depth plan for the village of Doolin in the north of County Clare as part of a multi-disciplinerary team led by Bucholz McEvoy Architects. James undertook a comprehensive socio-economic study to inform the masterplan.

    This included a review of all relevant reports & data; a review of tourism businesses in the area; an estimate of the current & projected impact of pier related tourism on Doolin, SWOT analysis and recommendations to maximise local economic benefit.

  • Algarve Tourism Products Assessment & Development Action Plan - Walking & Cycling

    Client: Turismo do Portugal & ANA Aeroportos de Portugal                       

    Date: 2015/16

    James has recently worked with Tourism Development International on a major international project in the Algarve region to prepare a region-wide cycling & hiking development strategy. This aims to address the issue of seasonality in the Algarve by strengthening an existing products through a series of targeted actions. The client was ANA Aeroportos de Portugal, the private sector company in control of Portugal's airports, in association with Turismo do Portugal the national tourism authority.

    Responsibilities: James played a lead role in this project including:

    • An overall assessment of the current walking and cycling product in the Algarve

    • Extensive consultation

    • Best practice case studies

    • Vision and strategic direction development

    • Preparation of a targeted and pragmatic action plan for the next 5 years which focusses on seven key action areas of: Organisation and Management; Product Development - Cycling; Product Development - Walking; Product Enablers and Quality Management; Accommodation Diversification and Development; Access; Marketing

  • Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre Feasibility Study

    Client: South Dublin County Council                                                                Date: 2015

    James worked with a team of consultants on the development of a feasibility study for the Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre. The aim of the centre is to provide a focus for recreation in the mountains and to attract increased numbers of visitors to & increase awareness of this part of Dublin.

    Responsibilities: James was responsible for concept development and for in-depth international comparative case study analysis for this important project.


  • South Dublin County Tourism Strategy

    Client: South Dublin County Council                                                            

    Date: 2015

    James worked with Tourism Development International on the development of a tourism strategy for South Dublin County Council.

    Responsibilities: James' role included an audit of tourism product within the county; situation analysis including SWOT development; and the identification of key opportunities including clusters and flagship projects.


  • Ballyhoura 2020 destination plan

    Client: Ballyhoura Development Ltd                                                         

    Date: 2013-14

    James worked with Tourism Development International on a project that was initially an 'Economic Assessment, including a Review and a Development of a Marketing Strategy' for Ballyhoura Development Ltd. This wide-ranging project addressed several areas including:

    • analysis of the current size of the tourism industry in the Ballyhoura area

    • analysis of market led demand for tourism in the Ballyhoura area

    • audit of current tourism supply in the Ballyhoura area

    • demand, supply analysis and addressing gaps

    • a review and evaluation of current marketing activities across all tourism stakeholders in the area and identification of the best approach to future marketing investment and future brand development to increase visitor numbers

    • Integration of the above information into a tourism strategy that highlights the strategic options available to tourism stakeholders

    • Development of a implementation framework to integrate all the various strategies into an operational 7 year strategy

    Responsibilities: James took a lead role in the development of this destination strategy including the situation analysis, SWOT analysis, opportunity identification, development of strategic approach and the preparation of the action plan and overall report.


  • Concept Development and Feasibility Study – Munster Vales

    Client: Waterford LEADER Partnership                                                               

    Date: 2013

    James worked with Tourism Development International on a significant destination planning study for the inland mountain ranges of Munster, namely the Comeraghs, Knockmealdowns, Galtees and Ballyhouras and known by the collective term the 'Munster Peaks'. The four ranges provide a mix of soft outdoor recreational activities (walking, cycling and angling) historic, coastal and rural towns and villages, and numerous heritage and cultural attractions of scale and significance.

    Responsibilities: James took a lead role in the development of this destination strategy including:

    • Product audit and situation analysis

    • Review of research and international best-practice

    • Development of vision and action plan

    • Report preparation

    The Munster Peaks have since been refined as the Munster Vales and are being incorporated within the Fáilte Ireland's 'Ireland's Ancient East' destination strategy. The client have indicated that this report was invaluable in ensuring the area was given definition and focus within this wider strategy.


  • Slade Valley Heritage Trail

    Client: South Dublin County Council                                                             

    Date: 2014

    James worked as part of a team led by Cunnane Stratton Reynolds and including Tourism Development International and Roughan & O'Donovan on a feasibility study for a heritage trail along the Slade Valley in South Dublin.

    Responsibilities: James' role included an audit of existing tourism product and services, review of tourism trends and route identification. This included analysis of opportunities including multiple users, linkages, access, signage and community involvement as well as flagship project identification and recommendations regarding community benefit.


  • Explore the Nore: Tourism and Recreation Product Identification Study

    Client: Trail Kilkenny

    Date: 2013

    James was part of a team, along with Tourism Development International, Cunnane Stratton Reynolds and ROD, that carried out a tourism and recreation scoping study on the River Nore through Kilkenny.

    Responsibilities: James worked on the product audit, undertook site visits, carried out background research into relevant best practice and helped draft sections of the final report.

  • Royal and Grand Canals Tourism Recreation and Commercial Product Identification Study

    Client: Waterways Ireland/Fáilte Ireland/Meath, Westmeath, Fingal, Kildare, South Dublin, Offaly and Longford County Councils

    Date: 2012/13

    James worked with Tourism Development International on an exciting and nationally significant project to assess recreation, tourism and commercial opportunities associated with the Royal and Grand Canals, which run from Dublin to the River Shannon through the counties of Fingal, South Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Westmeath, Offaly and Longford. This study began with a thorough review of all available reports and literature; a comprehensive product audit to identify every recreational and tourism offering along the route of both canals; and extensive consultation. This job was completed with the identification of best-practice for the development of canals and rivers and the formulation of a results based action plan to deliver a major recreational resource connecting Dublin with the Lakelands destination. The client was very happy with the end result, declaring it to be a 'blue print for the development of the canals for the next 10-15 years'.

    Responsibilities: James took a lead role in this significant project including the product audit, development of mapping, site visits, taking part in steering group meetings, extensive consultation, identification of relevant best-practice, development of strategic direction for the report, identification of projects, development of action plan and drafting of the majority of the final reports on the Grand Canal and the Royal Canal.

  • The Signal Tower and RMS Lusitania Story @ the Old Head of Kinsale: Tourism Audit

    Client: Courceys Rural Development, Co. Cork

    Date: 2012

    James was a member of a team that worked on a feasibility study for a local development organisation, Courceys Rural Development, to assess a site at the Old Head of Kinsale for the development of a visitor attraction based around the restoration of an early 1800's Signal Tower and the development of a significant visitor attraction based around the story of the RMS Lusitania which sunk nearby in 1915.

    The tourism audit report was completed in two stages with a focus on evidence-based research during the first stage with a thorough appraisal of the site from a local, national and international perspective. As well as desk-based research this included a number of site visits and extensive stakeholder consultation.

    The second stage of the Tourism Audit, the Review and Recommendations focussed on three key areas:

    • Strategies to enhance tourism potential examining the site concept; visitor profile and means to enhance the projects potential at each stage of development. The focus being on methods to stimulate and engage visitors and to build momentum at each stage of the project
    • Linkage development - focussing on means to maximise the potential of this exciting project through harnessing connections at a local, regional, national and international level
    • Estimate of tourism potential using indicative demand projections and revenue over a three year operating period. This section recommends entry fees and outlines development options.

    This project is now being submitted for funding to LEADER.

    Responsibilities: James was responsible for all aspects of the Tourism Audit including research, site visits, consultation, client liaison and report writing.

  • Tourism Feasibility Study, Julianstown, Co. Meath

    Client: Julianstown Community Development Association

    Date: 2012

    James, in association with Tourism Development International, worked on an interesting project in the small village of Julianstown in Co. Meath. This town has suffered from the impacts of a high volume of commuter traffic passing through and from the loss, through fire, of a major visitor attraction and community focus within the village, the Old Mill. However the village has a vibrant community sector and a dynamic local development organisation. This study identified symbiotic opportunities around the Old Mill area and the development of a Greenway along the river between Julianstown and the coast at Bettystown. This project is now being submitted for LEADER funding.

    Responsibilities: James was responsible for research, consultation, site visits, project identification, took part in client meetings and drafted part of the final report.

  • Socio-Economic Survey of Recreational Angling in Ireland

    Client: Inland Fisheries Ireland
    Date: 2012

    James worked on the national socio-economic survey of recreational anglers from March to November 2012 for Tourism Development International. This involved visiting lakes, rivers and canals throughout Ireland discussing angling-related issues with a wide range of domestic and overseas anglers. From this study James has gained a comprehensive insight into the issues and opportunities for recreational angling - both game and course.

    Responsibilities: James was responsible for developing and piloting the questionnaire, carrying out questionnaire interviews at identified lakes, rivers and sea angling locations around Ireland (not an onerous task by any means!) and for reviewing the final report.

  • Wicklow Wanderer – Tourism Feasibility Study for Sustainable Transport

    Client: Wicklow Tourism

    Date: 2012

    James, in association with Tourism Development International, was commissioned to carry out a tourism feasibility study for the development of a sustainable transport network in Co. Wicklow. The aim of this project was to identify visitor attractions, visitor nodes and hubs within the eastern half of the county and to connect these with a viable visitor bus service which in turn connected with rail services to Dublin. This project proposed the Wicklow Wanderer bus service and outlined a detailed economic case for such a service based on the Puffin Shuttle community/tourism bus service in West Wales.

    Responsibilities: James was responsible for research, client liaison, site visits, project identification and report writing.

  • Waterford Sustainable Tourism Assessment and Methodology

    Client: Fáilte Ireland

    Date: 2012

    Following the completion of a draft destination plan for Waterford this report was commissioned by the Environment Unit of Fáilte Ireland to establish a best-practice methodology for carrying out sustainable tourism assessments of destination plans. The aim of this assessment is to enhance the destination plan through making clear
    recommendations for changes to the proposed actions and activities.

    The purpose of this report was to outline the process of the sustainability assessment and to provide an example of the types of recommendations that are likely to arise from such an assessment. The form of the assessment is based upon a simplified version of the Sustainability Appraisal approach undertaken in the UK for National Parks and Areas of
    Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This matrices based approach is in turn based on the established methodology for carrying out Strategic Environmental Appraisal's (SEA).

    Responsibilities: James's role included every aspect of this project which put into practice the earlier Sustainable Appraisals methodology that he had identified.

  • Lough Neagh Cooperation Projects

    Client: Antrim Borough Council, Northern Ireland

    Date: 2011

    James worked on a significant project (in partnership with Tourism Development International) to identify cooperation projects for five Local Action Groups (LAG's) that surround Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland for funding from Axis 3 of the EU Rural Development Fund. This project has involved extensive public workshops, policy/strategy analysis; consultation and the development of a prioritised, costed and achievable action plan.

    Responsibilities: James was responsible for research, site visits, consultation, project identification and for a part of the report drafting.

  • Sustainability Appraisal Methodology

    Client: Environment Unit, Fáilte Ireland

    Date: 2011

    Fáilte Ireland intends to focus on development plans for key destinations over the next few years. To ensure that the policies within these destination plans accord with the principles of sustainable tourism Fáilte Ireland intend to carry out sustainability appraisals of these plans. Sustainability Appraisal is similar in concept to a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) however whereas an SEA only considers the environmental impacts of a strategic plan; Sustainability Appraisal also considers economical and social impacts.

    This report examined international best practice and proposed a methodology for carrying on sustainability appraisal on tourism destination plans. The proposed methodology aims to produce a better destination plan, with more informed policies without placing an onerous demand on the limited resources of Fáilte Ireland.

    Responsibilities: James was responsible for all aspects of this project including client liaison,
    research, report drafting and acquiring peer review.

  • Butler Trail, County Tipperary

    Client: South Tipperary Tourism Company

    Date: 2010/11

    James worked with Tourism Development International on a project to identify a heritage trail in South Tipperary. The project identified the Butler family as a core theme. The trail focuses on South Tipperary's rich and as yet under-developed cultural heritage in and around the towns of Clonmel, Cahir and Carrick-on-Suir. Having identified a route, buy-in was secured from local stakeholders and an action plan prepared which includes print and web brochures, town maps and community involvement. This project, which has the potential to act as a catalyst to stimulate tourism development, is ongoing and has now being taken to a development phase.

    Responsibilities: James's role included research, site visits, concept development, consultation, client liaison and drafting of the final report.

  • UNWTO Tourism Product Development Handbook Case Studies

    Client: UNWTO/ETC (Tourism Development International, Dublin)

    Date: 2010

    James undertook an assignment for Tourism Development International to research and
    compile 25 case studies for inclusion in the UNWTO's 'Tourism Product Development Handbook', published in 2011. This internationally significant project is designed to be used tourism development officers in national tourism organisations as well as other tourism industry professionals worldwide.

    Responsibilities: James was responsible for the research, selection and drafting of 25 case
    studies for inclusion in the Handbook.

  • Failte Ireland Tourism Impact Assessments

    Client: Fáilte Ireland

    Date: 2010-Ongoing

    James has undertaken several Tourism Impact Assessments for Fáilte Ireland. These have involved site visits, report preparation and submission on behalf of Fáilte Ireland on a range of issues from windfarm development to major road route selection and developments in areas of landscape sensitivity.

    Responsibilities: James was responsible for all aspects of the Tourism Impact Assessments
    including report research, site visits and report writing.

  • National Historic Walking Trails Programme

    Client: Fáilte Ireland, Product Development Unit, Dublin (BSM)

    Date: 2008/09

    During 2008-2009 James Chilton, while employed by Brady Shipman Martin, undertook an assignment to develop historic walking trails in 50 towns throughout Ireland, funded by Fáilte Ireland.

    Responsibilities: James was responsible for close consultation with the individual towns, Fáilte Ireland and signage production companies; analysis and approval of town applications; and detailed advice on trail routes and signage location. The first group of towns put signage into place during 2009.

  • Review of Draft County Development Plan Policies

    Review of Draft County Development Plan Policies for Counties Monaghan,
    Westmeath, Kilkenny, Roscommon, Mayo and Wexford

    Client: Fáilte Ireland, Environment Unit

    Date: 2006-ongoing

    Fáilte Ireland requires a review of the tourism component of existing County Development Plans and for submissions to be made in relation to the Draft County Development Plans.

    The purpose of these reviews are to provide County Council's with clear recommendations from Fáilte Ireland as to the suggested tourism related content of the new county development plan; and to offer guidance so as to ensure policies contribute to more sustainable development of tourism in the county. Much of the guidance and suggested policies have been included in the final draft of the Plans.
    Responsibilities: James has been responsible for all aspects of the reports including research, consultation, client liaison and report writing. In the majority of cases the submissions influenced the final draft of the plan with some tourism sections being entirely re-drafted to take account of the content.

  • A Review of ‘Mayo – Sustainable Tourism in the Coastal Zone’

    Client: Fáilte Ireland, Environment Unit, Dublin (BSM)

    Date: 2007

    James was commissioned by Fáilte Ireland's Environment Unit to undertake a review of the Mayo - Sustainable Tourism in the Coastal Zone strategy which was produced in 2000 by Mayo County Council and An Taisce as part of the Pilot Initiative for Tourism and Environment. This review posed key questions which were addressed to determine the success of the projects implementation. Although there some areas where the project could be said to have influenced development and achieved change; in general this review found that the lack of specific time-bound outcomes, against which the project could be assessed, made it problematic to determine its success. This review concludes with a range of recommendations for future coastal tourism development.

    Responsibilities: James was responsible for all aspects of the report including research, consultation, client liaison and report writing.

  • Bay of Plenty Recreation Strategy, New Zealand

    Client: Bay of Plenty Conservancy, Department of Conservation, New Zealand

    Date: 2005

    While employed as the Recreation Planner for the Bay of Plenty Conservancy, James
    produced the Conservancy's Recreation Strategy. This action-orientated recreation strategy was required to provide strategic direction for recreation management and examined the key areas of:

    • Resource Management (further separated into strategic planning, finance/capability and asset management);
    • Visitor Management (further separated into visitor monitoring and visitor opportunities and trends);
    • Communication and Partnerships

    The area covered by this strategy includes over 170,000ha of department managed land
    with 21 huts and a number of shelters, toilets and other buildings; approximately 533 kilometres of track, catering for a range of users; 113 kilometres of road; over 340 structures (including bridges, boardwalks and viewing platforms) and 8 campgrounds.

    Responsibilities: James was responsible for identifying the need for the plan, initiating the project and researching and compiling the plan. This included liaison with Area Offices and DOC Head Office. The plan was implemented in the conservancy and was used as a
    best-practice example in others regions of New Zealand.