Fáilte Ireland plans to invest €150 million in developing major new visitor attractions of scale across the country.
The tourism agency’s new ‘Platforms for Growth’ initiative is designed to “transform the tourism landscape across the country” according to CEO Paul Kelly.
The programme of investment is Fáilte Ireland’s largest yet, and forms part of its Grants Scheme for Large Tourism Projects which runs up to 2022. Funded under the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 strategy, it aims to drive sustainable growth in the tourism sector, and promote higher revenue and job creation around the country.
Major new visitor attractions of scale will be developed and existing attractions greatly enhanced through the plan, with individual grants of €2.5million upwards available.
Unlike any previous investment announced by Fáilte Ireland, it specifically targets ‘platforms’ or projects that have the greatest potential to grow, and fill gaps in the Irish tourism offering in order to meet changing visitor preferences.
Through this approach, Platforms for Growth will pave the way for large-scale and transformative attractions that will become key motivators to visit an area, which, in turn, will step-change the economic value in areas through increased visitor numbers, revenue and job creation.
The first ‘Platform’ launched this week will focus on developing Immersive Heritage and Cultural Attractions, capitalising on increasing visitor demand for more hands-on experiences which bring local culture and heritage to life. Fáilte Ireland’s CEO Paul Kelly stated: “Driving growth in the regions through tourism is a core focus of our work at Fáilte Ireland and having top-class visitor attractions and experiences is an integral part of this,” he said. “We are currently working on over 50 large capital projects throughout Ireland that will significantly enhance the Irish tourism offering as they open in the coming four years.
“Platforms for Growth builds on this work and takes a new approach to investment, as it will specifically seek out projects of scale that tap into exactly what overseas visitors are looking for. Creating a more regional spread of visitors is central to our capital investment strategy and through Platforms for Growth new attractions across the country will be developed and existing ones transformed.”
In an associated tourism development, the latest region added to the Wild Atlantic Way and the Ancient East was unveiled earlier this week with an advertising campaign for Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. Highlighting the Midlands region as the perfect place to take a short break, the €550,000 brand awareness campaign will run across television, radio, digital and outdoor formats around the tagline, ‘Yours to Uncover’.
Promoting the natural amenities offered by the Shannon, the Beara Breifne Way, Lough Oughter and Lough Key, as well as the region’s woodlands and bogs, it offers visitors a different experience to the country’s already established coastal areas.
It is tapping into a growing tourism trend for soft activities by encouraging visitors to be ‘active in nature’ and to explore the region by going off the beaten track,” explains Paddy Mathews, head of operations Hidden Heartlands.
“The brand’s appeal also very much lies in its offer for visitors to get away from the stresses and pressures of modern life and to experience the tranquillity of rural Ireland.”
Over the coming weeks, through a domestic brand awareness campaign, Fáilte Ireland will be reinforcing the region as a key part in the Irish tourism offering. The Irish domestic holiday market is an important component of the tourism sector providing year around activity worth over €1.1bn.
Fáilte Ireland’s marketing division invested over €8m in developing and delivering media content to bolster the home holiday market in 2018 delivering 15 bespoke fully integrated campaigns promoting the four experience brands.
“While this brand will need to evolve over time to realise its full potential, the area has some strong assets and Fáilte Ireland is working closely with key partners and communities across the region to begin developing the top-class visitor experiences that will be key to unlocking the success of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands,” Matthews added.
The two central spines of the region are the River Shannon and the Beara Breifne Way, and the tourism agency is focusing on developing these major assets to bring ‘visitor experiences of scale’ to the region.