Lakelands tourism designation could be "game changer"

Thursday, 4 January 2018

THE COUNCILLORS of Nenagh Municipal District recently welcomed the new Lakelands designation for tourism in the region.

€33m has been ringfenced for national tourism projects from the Government's capital plan, with the Lakelands brand expected to be one of the main beneficiaries.

  The Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland's Ancient East and Dublin are the current focus of Ireland's tourism strategy, but calls for a specific midlands brand were widespread in recent years. Therefore, Fáilte Ireland advertised for consultants to help the organisation build a brand for the midlands to emulate the success of the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland's Ancient East.

The area would appear to run south from Cavan down to Killaloe in County Clare and west from Westmeath to east Galway. The "experience brand" will include the notion of slow tourism, with a focus on walking, food, cycleways and water-based blueways.

  Cllr Phyll Bugler told the Nenagh MD meeting that the Lakelands project will receive about €30 million. "This will be very welcome but it's a pity it's not €100 million. I think this is our chance to really do something special for the Lough Derg region. This Lakelands designation could be really positive for the region."

  She warmly welcomed the ongoing development of the Ormond Way, which will be a walking and cycling route between Upperchurch and Portumna. It will form one of the stages of the Beara-Breifne Way, a walking and cycling route between the Beara Peninsula in Cork and Blacklion in Cavan, following the line of Donal Cam O'Sullivan Beare's march of 1602.

  Cllr Bugler pointed out that the Beara-Breifne Way and the Ormond Way could see a lot of tourist traffic. She said many people in Tipperary are looking forward very much to the opening of the Ormond Way. She asked how much funding will be available to market the route. "It will benefit B&Bs, hostels, pubs, cafés along the way. It could be a very significant benefit."

  A Council official told her that consultants have been appointed to draw up a plan of action for the Lakelands tourism region. "They will be creating a similar type brand to the Wild Atlantic Way."

  Cllr Ger Darcy agreed with Cllr Bugler. "The Beara-Breifne Way is coming through a part of North Tipperary that would be relatively quiet tourism-wise. I am a long time on the Council but during that time none of the tourism initiatives have really cracked it for our part of the world. This Way could bring considerable benefit. I haven't seen an opportunity like this before."

  Cllr John Carroll, Chairman, pointed out that there has been a 75 per cent increase in walking routes in Tipperary in recent years.

  Cllr Joe Hannigan said there is a great deal of natural and cultural heritage to be proud of in the North Tipperary region.

  "There is a big wealth of ecclesiastical heritage throughout the Lakelands region," said Cllr Carroll. "We could be on the cusp of something very positive here. We must do all we can to support it and build on it."


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