Cllr Micheál Carrigy, Minister of State for the Office of Public Works, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran TD and Cllr Gerry Warnock at the launch of new Ireland's Hidden Heartlands brand.
An initial €2m has been allocated to start the development stage of the new ‘Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands’ tourism brand.
It was also revealed during today's unveiling of the brand in the Hodson Bay Hotel that 'further funding' will follow.
‘Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands’ is Fáilte Ireland's latest brand - designed to boost tourism and drive visitor growth across Longford and the Midlands region.
The €2m first round of investment will help to develop visitor experiences, support industry development and develop marketing campaigns for the region.
Longford County Council members, Cllr Gerry Warnock and Chairperson of Longford Tourism, Cllr Micheál Carrigy, attended today's unveiling which was performed by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD.
Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Commercial Development, Paul Keeley, said that significant economic activity can be generated by the new Midlands brand as well as additional tourism revenue and employment if the brand realises its full potential.
Mr Keeley added: “We believe that Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands has the potential to attract more visitors to the region each year - transforming the local and regional tourist industry, which to date has under-performed the rest of the country.”
Mr Keeley pointed to parts of the region east of the Shannon and stressed that Fáilte Ireland was building in an overlap here with Ireland’s Ancient East to allow local operators to decide to leverage one or both of the visitor brands, whatever best suits their businesses.
Mr Keeley explained: “It’s important to note that we have not defined the boundaries of our various brand territories based on county boundary lines. Instead, we have looked at clusters of product and the distinctive experience they might offer. There is an area along the east of the Shannon river that is strongly rooted in the new brand’s appeal but also has many historical attractions which are already benefiting significantly from being part of our Ireland’s Ancient East brand. Therefore, we’ve built in some flexibility in this overlapping area to allow local businesses to make the most appropriate decisions for themselves.
“From our experience, the visitor is not concerned with our local county boundaries. Instead, they are more interested in the things to see and do and how easy these are to access as part of their itinerary. This is what makes a holiday special. The overlapping area offers the tourism businesses the opportunity to align their own visitor experience with the brand it fits best into and which gives them the best potential to grow.”