Late November 2019 saw a Fermanagh showcase event take place in The Spencer Hotel at Dublin’s IFSC, helping to promote the tourism businesses and experiences on offer in the county.
Over 40 Dublin-based tour operators and media representatives attended the event, organised by Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism and Tourism NI, whilst treated to brunch.
Attendees had the chance to network one-to-one with the Fermanagh trade, including representatives from Lough Erne Resort, Enniskillen Castle, Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel, Belleek Pottery, Erne Water Taxi, Blessingbourne Estate, Lusty Beg Island, Marble Arch Caves, Lakeland Tours, Belle Isle Castle, and the Westville Hotel.
The aim of this networking opportunity was to provide a platform to build relationships with many of the tour operators who are planning itineraries for both domestic and overseas visitors throughout Ireland, whilst also highlighting the variety of hospitality and tourism avenues that Fermanagh has to offer. This was an opportunity for Fermanagh to showcase all the tourism offerings and experiences from the lakeland region.
Presentations on new developments happening in Fermanagh were given by Tanya Cathcart, Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism; Noel McMeel, Lough Erne Resort; Mark Edward, Enniskillen Taste Experience; and Joe McGirr from the Boatyard Distillery.
Celebrating Taste The Island and the new Tourism Northern Ireland brand Embrace the Giant Spirit; Tanya Cathcart, marketing manager for Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism, said that the county has a serious amount to offer both national and international tourists.
She said that the showcase itself is “All about new authentic experiences – we would like to think in Fermanagh there are lots of experiences and offerings that have yet to be discovered and that’s one of the reasons why we are here”.
She went on to say that Fermanagh offers a variety of packages and experiences that capture the heritage and culture of the local area, including water travel, golf, estates, food, and caves.
She continued to say that on the first weekend in March there will be is a Discover Fermanagh Open Weekend, where all participating attractions are free. The event is growing each year and is “A great way to say that we’re open for business”.
Noel McMeel, Executive Chef in Lough Erne Resort, also spoke at the event, saying: “Food is the new currency of Ireland,” and that Irish food is changing. He highlighted the importance of supporting local businesses: “It is so vital that we buy from each other and support each other – it’s like economics.”
He expressed that within his own business, the Lough Erne Resort, the menus proudly state the origins of the food, proudly supporting the local economy and showing Fermanagh to the be the ‘true hidden gem’ that it is.
Joe McGirr from The Boatyard Distillery, spoke at the event, discussing the history of the three-year-old small family business. The organic distillery is accessible by car and by boat and works with local company Erne Water Taxi to offer bespoke tours for up to 40 guests at a time. Now available in 11 countries, the brand offers Double Gin, Old Tom Gin, and vodka.
Mark Edwards, from the Enniskillen Taste Experience, spoke about their offering, which also emphasised the close relationship that the community has in supporting each other. The aim of the tours according to Mark is to create “A totally unique experience” by gently guiding visitors through the area and showcasing the quality and diversity of their food. Starting at Enniskillen Castle, the tour lasts three and a half hours and guests are treated to full access to local producers in a welcoming and belly-filling fashion. Mark reinforced the high standard of local producers in the area by saying that they are “Not just providing a service, they are award- winning”.
The event most certainly hit the fact home that Fermanagh has a lot to offer visitors and, according to Kathy, these local businesses thrive when working together to provide the best possible experience for customers.