Fáilte Ireland has announced a new destination experience development plan for counties Meath and Louth, the opening of applications for the next phase of its programme of its Strategic Tourism Business Continuity funding and a new digital transformation programme for tourist attractions and activities.
Destination Experience Plan For Meath And Louth
Fáilte Ireland stated on its website, "Counties Meath and Louth are set to benefit from a new destination experience development plan that will bring to life the ancient culture, history, heritage and natural landscape synonymous with the two counties.
"Minister for tourism, culture, arts, Gaelteacht, sports and media Catherine Martin and Fáilte Ireland have...launched the 'Ancient' Destination Experience Development Plan (DEDP) to drive and sustain tourism in Meath and Louth by developing new and enhanced visitor experiences across both counties.
"The five-year plan has been developed in collaboration with Meath & Louth County Councils, the Office of Public Works (OPW) and several local tourism operators and businesses. The history and heritage of the counties will be central to the Plan which aims to create a dynamic destination that will attract domestic and international visitors.
"The plan includes a number of innovative and ambitious initiatives to develop the region as a top tourist destination including:
- a re-imagined Boyne Valley Drive;
- new Greenways and Blueways;
- enhanced outdoor offering in Carlingford Lough and coastal Louth;
- revival of “Ancient” trails throughout the landscape.
"The diversity and range of attractions, activities, cultural experiences across the counties will be highlighted and the Plan will also develop immersive visitor food experiences that tell the ‘ancient’ story and enhance the food sector in the region."
In a statement published on Fáilte Ireland's website, Martin said, "The aim of the 'Ancient' Destination Experience Development Plan is to support the development of the tourism offering in Meath and Louth, which ties in so closely in this region with our ancient culture, our heritage of myths and legends and also our lush natural environment.
"The past 12 months have been exceptionally challenging for the tourism sector. As we look forward to the reopening of tourism, it is important to develop innovative and ambitious plans such as the Ancient DEDP to leverage the unique tourism offering in rural Ireland for the domestic and international audience, once it is safe to do so."
In a statement published on Fáilte Ireland's website, head of Ireland's Ancient East at Fáilte Ireland Brian O'Flynn said, "Meath and Louth are some of the most historically and culturally significant areas in Ireland. The Ancient Destination Experience Development Plan aims to capture the unique essence of this part of the island and develop what is already an exciting area into a holistic tourism destination. Meath and Louth are steeped in Ancient stories and sites, and this plan provides a framework for tourism businesses and stakeholders in the region to tell their Ancient stories to visitors.
"Working with Meath County Council, Louth County Council and the OPW, over the next five years we plan to create new visitor experiences in the area, as well as developing and improving existing ones to drive long-term tourism growth, help extend the tourism season and sustain rural employment across both counties.
"I would like to thank both County Councils and the Office of Public Works, as well as local tourism businesses, for their valuable input into this plan and for their collaborative approach to developing the Meath-Louth area into a world-class tourist destination."
In a statement published on Fáilte Ireland's website, Meath County Council CEO Jackie Maguire said, "The tourism development approach outlined within the Ancient DEDP represents a destination roadmap for everybody involved in tourism. We are fortunate to have a UNESCO World Heritage site as a key attractor to the region. Initiatives such as re-imagining the Boyne Valley Drive and telling the 5,000 year story through our Greenways and Blueways represent exciting opportunities to build on the success of Brú na Boinne. The plan also maps out how the tourism industry can build on these opportunities and grow the economic value of tourism across all communities."
In a statement published on Fáilte Ireland's website, Louth County Council CEO Joan Martin said, "The 'Ancient' DEDP provides us with a collective vision for area. It creates a platform for new levels of collaboration between the public and private sector building on existing experiences and creating opportunities for visitors to explore our wonderful communities. The plan has identified immediate areas of focus for us to maximise the potential of our urban and rural destinations and allow us to showcase the rich natural heritage of our counties to the visitor."
Next Phase Of Programme Of Strategic Tourism Business Continuity Funding
As mentioned above, the next phase of Fáilte Ireland's programme of Strategic Tourism Business Continuity funding has opened for applications.
Fáilte Ireland stated on its website, "The Strategic Tourism Business Continuity Scheme 'Phase One Plus' is a continuation of the earlier Phase One Scheme, and will further support those businesses who have been unable to qualify for assistance under the government's Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), or who have received CRSS for only a portion of their business activity. This phase also includes some additional categories of tourism businesses that have not been supported previously, such as not-for-profit accommodation providers.
"An allocation of €55 million was secured by Minister Catherine Martin TD in Budget 2021 for a programme of funding under the strategic Tourism Business Continuity Scheme. The scheme is designed to help strategically important tourism businesses through a direct financial contribution to help offset fixed costs and support them to continue operating through 2021. Fáilte Ireland is responsible for developing and administering the scheme.
"The focus of the 'Phase One Plus' scheme is to support businesses who have not already benefited from funding under previous Fáilte Ireland business continuity schemes. Businesses including Outdoor Tourism Activity Providers, Tourism Golf Courses, Hop-On Hop-Off Tourism Bus Tour Operators, Cruise Hire Companies, Tourism Boat Tour Operators, Visitor Attractions, Caravan and Camping and Outdoor Accommodation Providers, Not-For-Profit Accommodation Providers (trusts/charities), Aviation and Rail Tourism Experiences and Tourism Destination Experience Organisers may be eligible to apply.
"The deadline for applications for the Strategic Tourism Business Continuity Scheme 'Phase One Plus' is 24th June 2021."
New Digital Transformation Programme For Tourist Attractions And Activities
As also mentioned above, Fáilte Ireland has also announced a new digital transformation programme for tourist attractions and activities.
Fáilte Ireland stated on its website, "Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin TD…unveiled details of Fáilte Ireland's new Digital that Delivers programme, which will see an initial investment of €6 million in the specialised training and digitalisation of visitor attractions and activities across Ireland in 2021.
"As only 15% of Irish activity and attraction providers currently have a suitable online booking engine, the digitalisation of the tourism sector is vital to improving Ireland’s ability to compete as a tourist destination on a global level in a post-COVID market.
"From [May 30], Fáilte Ireland is seeking to partner with up to 500 attractions, activities, and day tour providers in year one and over 1,350 visitor experiences overall.
"Funding for the programme was secured by Minister Catherine Martin TD in Budget 2021 for this programme which will be implemented by Fáilte Ireland over the next five years."
In a statement published on Fáilte Ireland's website, Martin said, "I very much welcome the Digital that Delivers programme from Fáilte Ireland which will bring a vital part of our tourism sector online and support its sustainable growth over the next five years. Futureproofing the sector by ensuring our tourist attractions and activities are harnessing the potential of cutting-edge technology and are visible to the customer on their smartphone, tablet or computer, is a strategic priority and this is reflected in the €6m investment in this programme."
Fáilte Ireland continued on its website, "Following year one of the programme, Fáilte Ireland will also work with 2,000 accommodation providers to create compelling and persuasive digital content that attracts the attention of potential customers and supports the promotion of up to 2,500 free things to see and do across multiple sales channels."
In a statement published on Fáilte Ireland’s website, Fáilte Ireland head of Commercial Development Paul Mockler said, "The digital footprint of a tourism business is one of the most powerful tools for attracting visitors to Ireland. We know from research that the digital presence and eCommerce capabilities of Ireland’s visitor attractions and activities needs improvements if we are to deliver a world class online experience for visitors as they research holidays and look for things to see and do. Digitally transforming the industry through the Digital that Delivers programme will be key to sustaining Ireland as a high-quality and competitive tourism destination into the future. The investment announced today will make sure the brilliant visitor experiences Ireland has to offer are front and centre in the online space, and that consumers can browse and book with ease through whatever channel is most convenient for them."
Fáilte Ireland added on its website, "To address this critical challenge, Fáilte Ireland developed the Digital that Delivers programme to provide practical, technical, and financial support to enable the Irish visitor experiences sector to:
- Develop bookable experiences if they do not currently have an experience that is bookable - both paid & non-paid.
- Activate connected online booking systems, capable of accepting direct bookings on own website and traditional channels as well as distributing their product to third party channels like tour operators, destination management companies or online travel agents.
- Enhance their own websites to drive consideration and conversion for their product offering and focus on a destination first sell.
- Improve digital capabilities of business owners/staff to utilise the functionality of ‘connected’ booking systems to enhance and streamline the management of inventory, staff, equipment, marketing, communications, invoicing, reporting, and other businesses processes.
"Target consumers with the right content, at the right time, on the channels that are most convenient for them.
"These interventions will ensure that Ireland becomes more attractive as a destination against intense international competition, drives more visitors to all regions of Ireland and will support businesses in lowering their operating costs, increasing their yield per visitors and ultimately becoming more sustainable into the future."
© 2021 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.