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    Fáilte Ireland Authority meet in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands

    Fáilte Ireland Authority meet in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands

    Fáilte Ireland’s Authority is meeting in Athlone to hold its May meeting at The Sheraton Hotel today (May 16th). 

    The Authority is using the opportunity to meet with tourism businesses working on the ground across Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and to experience local tourist attractions. It is the first time the Authority of Fáilte Ireland has held its Board meeting in Athlone.

    Launched to the public in April 2018 by Fáilte Ireland, the Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands brand is supporting the development of tourism across the Midlands region. As part of the meeting, local tourism providers were given the opportunity to present directly to the Authority on the impact that the Hidden Heartlands brand is having on their business in terms of revenue and visitor numbers one year on.

    The local tourism businesses addressing the Fáilte Ireland Authority included: National Famine Museum, Strokestown House, Co. Roscommon; The Hodson Bay Hotel Group, Athlone; Killaloe River Cruises, Lough Derg, Co Clare; and the Slieve Russell Hotel, Co. Cavan. Waterways Ireland also attended and outlined the work being undertaken on the preparation of the Shannon Tourism Masterplan, which is being prepared in association with Fáilte Ireland and the Local Authorities.

    All speakers highlighted the positive effects the brand has had on their businesses over the last 12 months. They also emphasised how Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands provides solid opportunities for their businesses to increase the level of cross-promotion and cross-selling between each other under a common brand. As a result, they projected significant revenue growth and higher visitor numbers over the next three years.

    Oireachtas representatives from the region including Minister of State Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, Denis Naughten TD and Senator Maura Hopkins availed of the opportunity to meet with Fáilte Ireland Authority members and tourism businesses at the Sheraton Hotel during a working lunch.

    Fáilte Ireland Chairman, Michael Cawley stated:

    “I am extremely pleased to see that the Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands brand has proved to be a positive development for this region since its launch 12 months ago. As the Authority of Fáilte Ireland we wanted to visit Athlone to hear first-hand from tourism businesses working on the ground in the region. One year on it is already clear that tourism has grown here so there is significant potential to maximise the brand well into the future across the region to boost revenue, grow visitor numbers and create sustainable local jobs.”

    As Shannon cruising and outdoor activities are placed at the heart of the Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands regional experience brand, the Authority was invited to experience a boat trip on the Shannon before getting a first look inside at the soon to be opened Center Parcs at Longford Forest. Center Parcs is the single largest investment in rural tourism anywhere in Ireland valued at €223m and is creating 1,000 jobs. This size of investment is a clear demonstration of Ireland’s strength as a destination.

    Following the meeting Garry Walsh, Group Commercial Director, Hodson Bay Group explained –

    “The introduction of the Ireland’s Hidden Heartland’s brand was a strong demonstration of Fáilte Ireland’s belief in the midland’s potential for tourism growth. Hosting the Fáilte Ireland Authority meeting in Athlone today is further evidence that the tourism authority is focussed on supporting tourism businesses in this region to grow in a way that will result in the creation of more jobs and further tourism revenue.”

    Tourism Industry Members in Attendance
    • Ann O’Donoghue, Irish Heritage Trust, representing the National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park
    • Garry Walsh, Hodson Bay Hotel Group
    • Éanna Rowe, Waterways Ireland
    • Stephen Masterson, Slieve Russell Hotel
    • James Whelan, Killaloe River Cruises

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