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#Tourism - ‘Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands’ is the new tourism brand for the Midlands region, with a particular emphasis on its inland waterways.

More than 10,000 consumers gave their put to Fáilte Ireland on the development of the brand, which hopes to “bring to life the Midlands' rich natural assets including its many lakes, walkways and blueways”.

The River Shannon will be a central focus, with a Shannon Master Plan currently being developed by Fáilte Ireland in partnership with Waterways Ireland to drive tourism opportunities both on and off the water and in surrounding towns.

A series of food networks and trails will also be developed as part of the new brand.

Launching Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands in Athlone last Friday 13 April, Transport Minister Shane Ross said the brand “will significantly enhance the Midlands as a tourism experience and bring growth and jobs to the whole region. 

“We have always been committed to ensuring that Ireland’s success as a world-class tourist destination is shared among the regions. Some of the country’s finest natural assets are in the Midlands, including spectacular lakes, walkways and blueways. Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands will bring these gems to life, offering a unique experience to both domestic and international visitors.”

Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands will cover the ‘heart’ of the country, from Leitrim down to East Clare and extending through Longford, Roscommon, East Galway, as well as parts of Westmeath, Cavan, North Tipperary and Offaly. 

Failte Ireland regions

It will complement Fáilte Ireland’s other key brands in the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East and Dublin.

“Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands has been developed after months of extensive market testing both here and overseas,” said Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland. “The overwhelming feedback is that visitors from key markets want the opportunity to explore Ireland’s natural gems and rural communities. 

“There is also a huge appetite out there for tourists to be active in nature through activities like walking, cycling, angling and boating routes – all of which the Midlands can offer in abundance.”

An initial €2 million has been allocated to start the development stage of the brand, with further funding to follow. This first round of investment will help to develop visitor experiences, support industry development and develop marketing campaigns for the region.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

#FerryNews-  The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has reported an upturn in visitor numbers last year.

Booking data reports Manx Radio from the ferry operator shows an increase of 3.4% in ferry passengers compared to 2016.

It comes in spite of Cabinet Office figures indicating a sharp fall in visitors to the Island last year - findings which have come under doubt from parts of the tourism industry.

Passenger departures from Liverpool, Birkenhead, Belfast and Dublin are all up, with only a small decrease in those coming from Heysham.

Steam Packet Chief Executive Mark Woodward says continued investment in promotion of the Island, as well an increased UK marketing budget, are factors in the continued growth in numbers.

Published in Ferry

#Tourism - The Port of Cork, Bantry Bay Port Company and the Royal Cork Yacht Club are joining forces to promote marine leisure in Cork at the Southampton Boat Show.

The three organisations are in attendance at Stand J047 from today Friday 15 to Sunday 24 September tasked with promoting their marina facilities to potential visitors.

They will also be targeting the luxury cruisers and motor yacht market to entice further calls to Cork, Crosshaven and Bantry.

In 2009 the Port of Cork implemented the Leisure and Recreation Strategy for Cork Harbour, with the primary focus of the strategy on water-based leisure and recreational activities in and around the harbour.

Speaking about attending the boat show, Sara Mackeown, commercial marketing executive for the Port of Cork, said: “This is great opportunity to showcase Cork as an ideal destination for marine leisure users.

“Our marina facility in the heart of Cork City is unique and having just completed the new Bantry Harbour Marina there is a great connection now between Cork and West Cork. We are delighted to work closely with the Royal Cork Yacht Club, who have huge experience in the field.”

Cork Harbour offers significant potential for further development of the marine recreation sector as an important source of enjoyment and economic gain for the local residents and visitors, and it is anticipated that attending the Southampton Boat Show will help to promote the marine facilities directly to the desired market.

Gavin Deane, general manager of the Royal Cork Yacht Club said: “The Royal Cork Yacht Club are delighted to be collaborating with both the Port of Cork and Bantry Bay Port Company in promoting the region.

“This year we have seen a significant increase in the number of visiting boats to our marina, the majority of whom have travelled from the south coast of the UK.

“We feel that with this growth in visitors, now is the ideal time to showcase everything that Cork has to offer and Southampton Boat Show 2017 is the place to do it.”

Published in Aquatic Tourism

#Tourism - Waterville Lakes and Rivers Trust is hosting an information event on opportunities in angling tourism for business owners and the public in Waterville and surrounding areas later this month.

The event, which takes place at The Sea Lodge in Waterville, Co Kerry on Thursday 27 April at 7.30pm, will focus on sharing results from a recent economic survey carried out in Waterville among angling tourists to the area.

The research reveals some key opportunities for business and service providers in the locality.

The Waterville Anglers Survey queried 207 anglers visiting the area and found that on average, angling visitors spend €644 per fishing trip, or €114 per day.

The impact of this expenditure is far reaching across the local community, with €451 spent on non-angling items such as accommodation, restaurants/cafés and groceries, and €193 of angling expenditure on items such as angling guides, boat hire and equipment.

This daily spend of anglers in Waterville (€114) far exceeds the spending of non-angling visitors to Ireland. Fáilte Ireland’s Tourism Facts Report 2015 cites expenditure of non-angling visitors and holiday makers at €68 and €89 respectively per person per day in 2015.

The research, which was carried out by Inland Fisheries Ireland with Waterville Lakes and River Trust, highlights the significant recreational and economic value of the fisheries resource to the area.

Rod Robinson, spokesperson for Waterville Lakes and Trust, said: “Waterville is a popular destination for anglers and this research shows us the huge economic contribution they make to Waterville and the potential opportunity which exists for the community.

“We are inviting the public, business owners and tourist operators to come along and hear more so that together we can grow our offering around the fisheries amenity.”

Suzanne Campion, head of business development at Inland Fisheries Ireland, added: “We know at a national level that the fisheries resource contributes €836 million to the Irish economy annually but this local research also tells us that there is significant value of angling tourists to this community.

“We also note that the research once more confirms that angling visitors spend more than non-angling tourists and that they visit outside of the traditional tourist season, supporting local businesses and jobs while doing so.”

The information event is open to all to attend. For more details, contact Rod Robinson at Waterville Lakes and Trust via email at [email protected]

Published in Aquatic Tourism

#TopBeaches - Banna Strand in Co Kerry has topped TripAdvisor’s list of Ireland’s best beaches.

The stretch of sand on Tralee Bay takes the top spot in the annual table from second-placed Inchydoney in Co Cork, which had been the travel website user’s favourite for the last three years running.

West coast beaches dominate the top 10, and the Kingdom claims most of all, taking third (Derrynane), fourth (Inch Beach) and sixth places (Coymeenoole).

But strands in Sligo, Connemara, Donegal and Curracloe in Co Wexford also made the cut, as Independent.ie reports.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

#Tourism - Boating in the Midlands’ waterways will be the focus of a major tourism push this year, as The Irish Times reports.

Fáilte Ireland’s new ‘slow tourism’ initiative will concentrate on promoting existing walking and cycling greenways and ‘blueway’ cruising routes in Midlands counties south from Lough Allen on the upper Shannon.

Minister of State for Tourism Patrick O’Donovan announced the new marketing plans in his address to the Irish Hotels Federation conference in Kilkenny yesterday (Tuesday 28 February).

“We have had the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, and now we are working on a development plan for the Lakelands,” he said.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

#Angling - Following the announcement of an €800,000 stimulus package for economic development on Ireland’s waterways, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has released details of Leitrim’s share to develop angling in Ballinamore.

An award of €100,000 from the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs under the REDZ (Rural Economic Development Zone) Initiative will go to improving access to angling in Ballinamore with a view to developing tourism in the Lakelands region, as proposed by Leitrim County Council with support from IFI.

The project involves the development of angling infrastructure at Garadice and Kiltybarden Lakes, venues noted for match angling and currently annual hosts of the World Pairs Angling Championships. The €100,000 grant will upgrade the facilities at these locations to draw other national and international competitions to the area.

The angling facility will also be accessible to wheelchair users and will have a special area dedicated to youth angling.

In total the project will cost around €125,000, with the rest of the funding provided by IFI (€21,200) and Leitrim County Council (€3,800).

Frank Curran, chief executive of Leitrim County Council, said: “We are delighted with the approval of the funding for the Rural Economic Development Zone for Ballinamore and Carrigallen area which is focusing on the angling sector.

“Angling is an extremely important economic driver for this area made possible by the excellent fishing lakes in the locality along with a well-known, international reputation. Ballinamore/Carrigallen has been host to numerous angling competitions such as the World Pairs and the Dutch King of Clubs.

“Leitrim County Council looks forward to working with the local trade and Inland Fisheries Ireland in the delivery of this project in the coming months.”

IFI head of business development Suzanne Campion added: “Our fisheries resource is precious from a recreational and economic viewpoint. We are committed to ensuring that Ireland uses the resource to its best potential in a conservation focused manner and we are delighted to secure this funding for Leitrim.

“Anglers already enjoy the great fishing and beautiful scenery available at Ballinamore and this facility will make access to angling easier and allow the area to cater for several large and international angling competitions.

“Investment in angling development is crucial if we are to help attract visitors to rural areas. We know that angling visitors spend considerable time in an area when they identify with it as an angling destination. Anglers use several services and business in an area when visiting such as accommodation, restaurants, shops as well as boat hire and equipment rental.

“We look forward to working with our partners, Leitrim County Council and the community, in enhancing Ballinamore as a top angling destination.”

The Ballinamore project will form part of IFI’s National Strategy for Angling Development (NSAD), a comprehensive national framework for the development of Ireland’s angling resource.

The strategy aims to deliver a wide-ranging set of investments, innovations and promotions over the coming five years, to ensure that Ireland’s fish stocks and angling infrastructure are protected and enhanced for both their economic value and recreational benefit to the communities and visitors they serve across Ireland.

Published in Angling

#Angling - Poaching is a direct threat to efforts to revive salmon and trout angling and associated tourism in Connemara, a local business has warned.

Brian Curran of Lough Corrib-based Ireland West Angling told the Connacht Tribune that poachers are doing “untold damage to rehabilitation efforts” in Spiddal and environs, following a recent conviction of a local man for unlawful netting on the Boluisce River.

Such illegal practices disturb the painstaking work of Inland Fisheries Ireland staff and local registered fisheries to clear obstructions and place spawning gravel to aid fish in their migration.

The story comes weeks after Northern Irish anglers expressed their own concerns over poaching and pollution in the Carlingford and Lough Foyle areas, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Angling

#Diving - A new commercial catamaran is part of a Portstewart-based diving firm’s efforts to compete with popular dive tourism destinations abroad, as the News Letter reports.

Diving is ‘big business’ for the Aquaholics Dive Centre, which provides services for big-name film and TV productions such as Game of Thrones alongside its training, sea safari and diving holiday offerings.

And it’s the tourism that such visibility brings to Northern Ireland that the company aims to capture, with its new boat just the ticket to explore more of the Causeway Coast’s impressive diving sites.

The News Letter has more on the story HERE.

Published in Diving

#SkelligRing - The Skellig Ring in Co Kerry features in Lonely Planet’s top 10 regions for globetrotters to explore on 2017.

“Ireland’s most charismatically wild and emerald stretch of coastline,” as the popular travel guide’s Best in Travel report puts it, rounds out a list that includes such breathtaking destinations as French Polynesia, Chilean Patagonia, mountainous New Zealand and the Azores.

And unsurprisingly, the biggest draw to this corner of the Wild Atlantic Way is the majestic Skellig Michael, set for another bumper tourism year in 2017 on the back of its inclusion in the new Star Wars movie series.

Published in Aquatic Tourism
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