Ireland's Ancient East aims to emulate success of the Wild Atlantic Way
New "touring region" launched
It aims to be the east's answer to the Wild Atlantic Way, showcasing the best of Irish heritage.
A new tourist trail has been launched aimed at transforming the south and east from a "transit zone" to a proper destination for overseas tourists.
The 'Ireland's Ancient East' initiative launched by Tourism Minister Paschal Donohoe aims to get tourists to spend more money in an area that's traditionally lost out to western counties and Dublin.
It aims to emulate the success of the Wild Atlantic Way by highlighting historical attractions that will encourage tourists to stay overnight instead of taking in one or two big sights before bolting for Dublin or the west.
The tourism initiative stretches from Newgrange and the Boyne Valley in the northeast, down as far as Cork.
It takes in Glendalough, Kilkenny's Medieval Mile, Waterford's Viking Quarter and the Rock of Cashel among others.
However, there were accusations that it "ignored" Wexford.
Fianna Fáil councillor Malcolm Byrne complained that Wexford has a rich history and referred to the Vikings and Normans as well as the 1798 Rebellion and the county's links to John F Kennedy.
"I think we are very fortunate in Ireland that we have so many historic landmarks but to, for the most part, ignore Co Wexford in this new trail is a misguided decision," he said, adding that the limited benefit to Wexford "just beggar's belief"
Junior minister for tourism Michael Ring rejected the complaints telling the Irish Independent: "Typical of Fianna Fáil. They got it wrong again. Anyone who looks at the heritage sites included in the 'Ireland Ancient East' can see that Wexford is well represented in the sunny south east."
Fáilte Ireland said the aim is to deliver an extra 600,000 visitors to the south east by 2020 spending an extra €650m.
Although 20pc of tourists visit the region, it only gets 11pc of spending as most people pass through quickly.
No budget has been announced for the project but Fáilte Ireland said it expects to spend about €600,000 on marketing this year, with a strong digital emphasis including new apps making it easier for tourists to find attractions.
Mr Donohoe said he would look at capital investment in next year's budget.
While appealing to a "different type of visitor" than the Wild Atlantic Way, he is confident it will deliver "significant additional numbers of visitors, revenue and jobs to the region".
Ireland's Ancient East will group attractions under four distinct sub-themes including Ancient Ireland sites such as Newgrange; Early Christian Ireland including Clonmacnoise and Glendalough; Medieval Ireland including Kilkenny and the Rock of Cashel and Anglo-Ireland including great estates such as Powerscourt and Lismore Castle.
Read more:Ireland's Ancient East: Six questions about our new touring region 'Ireland's Ancient East' launched as follow-up to Wild Atlantic Way