Website launches for 'game-changing' new €20m Irish touring region
Ireland's Ancient East
A website for Ireland's Ancient East has gone live, giving visitors their first glimpse of Fáilte Ireland's new tourism proposition.
The website, irelandsancienteast.com, is the first substantial way for the public to engage with the follow-up to the massively successful Wild Atlantic Way.
"I think Ireland's Ancient East will be a bigger game-changer than anything we have done in Dublin or the West," Alex Connolly, Fáilte Ireland's Head of Communications, told Independent.ie Travel.
"We're talking about fundamentally changing the nature of tourism on the ground, about turning a transit region into a touring region."
Ireland's Ancient East sprawls far beyond the east coast, taking in attractions that range from the Cavan Burren (below) to Waterford's Copper Coast - a total of 17 counties that together attract just 10pc of overseas tourism revenue in Ireland.
By 2020, Connolly says, Fáilte Ireland hopes to grow visitors to the region by 600,000 (21pc), and overseas visitor revenue by €204 million (28pc).
The 'mobile-first' website aims to immerse visitors in 5,000 of heritage attractions, themes and signature stories in the region, and will be followed by the roll-out of a domestic marketing campaign this weekend, and a 60-second TV ad in June.
Fáilte Ireland is investing €18 million in Ireland's Ancient East this year, it says - in addition to €2.3m already committed to capital projects such as Cobh's Titanic Experience, Wexford's Hook Lighthouse and Athlone Castle.
Branded signs, training supports and a €550,000 investment in national and regional festivals are also due in 2016, it says.
“In the south and east of the country, we are presented with a particular tourism challenge – that of increasing the length of time visitors stay in the region and effectively transforming it from a ‘transit zone’ to a ‘touring zone’ in its own right," said Michael Cawley, the tourism development authority's chairman.
“Our new destination brand will allow us to market and leverage the unique depth and diversity of the region’s heritage assets."
Businesses are "really up for it", Connolly added, with more than 250 tourism operators attending a briefing on the proposition in Kilkenny this week.
Social profiles have also been launched for Ireland's Ancient East, including on Facebook, Twitter (@AncientEastIRL) and Instagram (@IrelandsAncientEast).