3 New Counties To Sit in Hidden Heartlands

3 New Counties To Sit in Hidden Heartlands

Pól Ó Conghaile  

Irish Independent

Counties Cavan, Westmeath and Offaly are to sit wholly within the Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands tourism brand “with immediate effect”.

Previously, parts of the counties had sat within the Ireland’s Ancient East brand, but Fáilte Ireland has made the changes as part of a “comprehensive brand review” of both, it says.

In addition, the Nenagh Municipal District and parts of the Thurles Municipal District in Co Tipperary will switch to Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

Redrawing the map will “allow us to further raise awareness of this region domestically and internationally,” said Paddy Mathews, Head of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

The expanded footprint "will give visitors a more cohesive visitor experience in the area and will strengthen the overall tourism offering”, Fáilte Ireland added.

“The cost involved is minimal as the brands are already in existence and there will just be some collateral and signage updates,” a spokesperson added.

It comes as Irish tourism and hospitality businesses face a transitional season where optimism and celebration are challenged by a growing staffing crisis, soaring costs and concern at the impending withdrawal of state supports.

The brands have seen millions invested in marketing and tourism development, but their geography (parts of Cork sit within Ireland's Ancient East, for example, and there remains a small overlap in the northwest) have confused some.

The concepts and themes behind Ireland's Hidden Heartlands and Ireland's Ancient East have also been a slower burn than the Wild Atlantic Way - a stunning marketing success that quickly caught the public imagination.

Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands was launched in 2018 and centres around rural tourism, the outdoors, heritage and off-radar attractions and experiences.

It is dubbed “one of the leading regenerative tourism destinations in Europe, with nature and communities at its heart”, and could be well-positioned to attract post-Covid visitors seeking outdoors, uncrowded and authentic holidays rich in heritage.

The expansion announcement was made at Fáilte Ireland’s ‘ From Survival to Recovery’  event last week, during which it uneiled its plans for tourism in 2022.

Among those plans are a €10 million marketing spend to drive home holidays and a tourism careers strategy to address the staffing and skills crisis.

“Tourism is essential for creating sustainable communities and a significant generator of jobs in regional and rural Ireland,” said CEO Paul Kelly.

"As a critical part of the national economy, only when tourism recovers can there be a nationwide recovery.”