Over €100,000 will be pumped into Leitrim events this year in an effort to attract tourists and develop events as part of the The Irish Gathering.
Carrick 400 will receive €25,000 in IPB funding this year, 29 community festivals around the county will benefit from a €30k pool, while €45,000 has been made available for Carrick Water Festival, Margaret of New Orleans Festival, Green Door, Drumshanbo Traditional music festivals, Lairds Food Gathering, the Connaught Fleadh and the International Ballooning Competition.
It was revealed at Fáilte Ireland’s annual tourism industry briefing for the North West region which was held in The Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran, Co Donegal last week that confidence in the Irish tourism industry for the year ahead is at its highest levels since the current downturn began in 2007.
This optimism is helped by growth in some overseas markets last year, for the first time since the downturn in 2008, particularly traditional markets in the US, Germany and France.
However, Fáilte Ireland stressed that targeted changes will need to be effected in our nearest and biggest overseas market – Great Britain – and the national tourism development agency stressed that a radical change in approach to that market would be necessary this year.
At least 51 events are organised to proceed in Leitrim under ‘The Gathering’ banner.
Failte Ireland are also developing Tourism Town Awards to motivate communities to lure in visitors and the Atlantic Way is an exciting new project which involves the development of a driving route along the Atlantic coast from Cork to Donegal including part of Leitrim’s small coastline.
Leitrim will also hope to benefit from the extensive marketing of the Lakelands and Inland Waterways last year as well as the upskilling of tourist businesses and the 15 international media who visited the county last year from Australia, Britain, Germany, USA and Europe.
Fáilte Ireland’s CEO, Shaun Quinn said “This year in particular, the industry has been given a leg up with ‘The Gathering’ initiative developed by Fáilte Ireland. The local tourism industry needs to put its best foot forward in 2013 and provide those who have come to ‘gather’ with an unparalleled visitor experience and great value which will encourage visitors to recommend the North West region as a premier destination and return again and again to the region”.
Ms Martina Bromley, Head of Operations for Fáilte Ireland in the North West region explained that a key focus for the region in 2013 will be the further development and promotion of activities, such as walking, adventure and golf, underpinned by a strong cultural offering linked into the iconic attractions of the region.
“The focus and emphasis over the coming 12 months will be growth – we will continue to work with our trade in an effective and targeted way and to assist them to grow business - we will look at their operation and see how they are best placed to win overseas business in 2013.
“Growth is now paramount for all our tourism trade and we need to sweat the assets and gems of the region, put the best experiential offerings into the shop window and ensure that all trade are enabled themselves to deliver on business whether that is their on-line presence, dealing with on line tour operators, digital capability around Trip Advisor, Facebook and Twitter, packaging and bundling with other quality businesses, overseas trade shows and knowing their markets with best potential because they have the right research and insights to make those clear judgements.”
Ms Bromley also stressed that The Gathering in 2013 has capacity to attract substantial overseas visitors to the region and it will also have a huge legacy aspect. Fáilte Ireland will work closely with the Local Authorities, the Chairs of the Gathering in the three counties and the steering groups to ensure that there is a positive lasting economic benefit from this initiative.
National festivals and events will be supported and they play an important role in delivering overseas visitors in 2013.