Longford in serious contention for tourism development

Presentation on the future potential for the county

Aisling Kiernan

Reporter:

Aisling Kiernan

Email:

aisling.kiernan@longfordleader.ie

Longford in serious contention for tourism development

Locals gather for the Ballymahon Royal Canal Greenway launch last year.

A presentation on Longford tourism and its future was made to members of Ballymahon Municipal District, by Head of Local Enterprise, Longford Co Council, Michael Nevin at last week’s monthly meeting.

The meeting heard that a new tourism officer - Dympna Reilly - was now in situ and a lot of work would be undertaken this year to link the various trails across the county.

Reference too was also made to Ballymahon and its position in the county now that Center Parcs is on the way.

Ballymahon Municipal District is the goose that got the golden egg,” smiled Mr Nevin as he spoke to those present.

“The arrival of Center Parcs and the benefit that will have on the area brings with it a very exciting time, but of course there will also be challenges.

“One of the challenges we all have is to get the spend from the traffic that Center Parcs generates; whether that is by people on the way to the facility or on the way back.”

Meanwhile, Mr Nevin also spoke about the ‘Lakelands’ brand and Co Longford’s place in that.

“We, in Longford can build on this and the emphasis will be on extracting business from tourism so that businesses will see this as a good place in which to invest,” he added.

“We also want to keep those businesses going, so while there is a huge challenge to build tourism accommodation at the moment, we see tourism as the key economic driver.

“That, of course, will only happen if we can convince people to stay in the county.”

He went on to say that jobs would be created, but the question was how could we keep those jobs sustainable?

The meeting heard that during the summer months works would begin on connecting the various trails throughout the county and the development of the www.longford.ie brand was also near completion.

Mr Nevin then pointed out that each municipal district would be expected to provide €20,000 from its budget to help with the ongoing development of tourism in Longford.

“At the moment there is no itinerary available, to people who might be interested in coming to this county, about what they can do and see once they get here,” Mr Nevin continued.

“Obviously that is an area that needs to be developed and we also want to attract more people to the county.

“We have many attractions - Corlea for example attracts 5,000 visitors a year so there is a lot of potential there for us.

“We have numerous festivals as well and Taste of the Lakelands attracted 8,000 visitors last year; we want to concentrate on the ones that will bring visitors to the county and build on the product.

“We also need vision when it comes to the Blueways and Greenways, etc.”

Cathaoirleach, Cllr Gerald Farrell (FG) said there was a very positive vibe in the county at the moment.

“The fact that we are moving forward on our tourism brand is very positive - everything is starting to come together and that is great,” he added.

Meanwhile, Cllr Mick Cahill (FF) pointed out that while it was all well and good providing €20,000 to tourism development, it would be important for the municipal district from which it came from to benefit too.

“If we are going to spend €20,000 on this, we would need to ensure that the money comes back to our own area,” he added.

Director of Services, Barbara Heslin then outlined to the meeting what the money would be spent on.

“It will be used for the development of the trails and for infrastructural works,” she added, before pointing out that it was important to build on what was already there and get the necessary itineraries for the county in place.

“The trails need to be linked; the Greenway and Blueway are here, so what we need to do now is build on our branding and promotion.”

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