East Galway braced for tourism upsurge

Tourism boost...an Emerald Star Shannon Cruiser at Portumna.
Tourism boost...an Emerald Star Shannon Cruiser at Portumna.

Tourism interests across East Galway received a major boost last week with the launch of ‘Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands’ – Fáilte Ireland’s new tourism brand for Midlands.

Designed to mirror the success of the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands will encourage visitors to get ‘active in nature’ and explore the region’s natural assets off the beaten tracks through a range of activities including walking, food, cycling, fishing, and boating routes.

And much of the focus for that will be along the route of the River Shannon, designed to boost tourism and drive visitor growth across East Galway and the Midlands region.

To that end, a Shannon Master Plan currently being developed by Fáilte Ireland in partnership with Waterways Ireland to drive tourism opportunities both on and off the water, and in the towns surrounding it.

An initial €2m has been allocated to start the development stage of the brand, with further funding to follow.

This first round of investment will help to develop visitor experiences, support industry development and develop marketing campaigns for the region.

The marketing drive was launched in Athlone last week by Tourism Minister Shane Ross and Junior Minister, Kevin Boxer Moran.

“We have always been committed to ensuring that Ireland’s success as a world-class tourist destination is shared among the regions,” said Minister Ross.

“Some of the country’s finest natural assets are in the Midlands, including spectacular lakes, walkways and blueways.

“Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands will bring these gems to life, offering a unique experience to both domestic and international visitors,” he added.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.