Fáilte Ireland has unveiled Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, its latest tourism brand aimed at boosting visitor numbers to the midlands region.
Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands will cover the ‘heart’ of the country, from Leitrim down to East Clare and extending through Longford, Roscommon, East Galway, as well as parts of Westmeath, Cavan, North Tipperary and Offaly.
The River Shannon will be a central focus of the brand, with a Shannon Master Plan currently being developed by Fáilte Ireland in partnership with Waterways Ireland.
Another asset for Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands will be the Beara Breifne Way, which spans the whole region, and where a walking and trail experience will be developed to international standards. The Activation Master Plan will see a number of towns along the route identified as walking hubs to support this ambition and drive visitors into nearby areas.
A series of food networks and trails will also be developed as part of the new brand.
The brand elements including the name, logo and what the brand stands for were developed following research with consumers in Ireland, US, UK, Germany and France. Over 10,000 consumers were interviewed in the process.
Speaking about how the new brand will help to drive growth across the region, Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, said: “Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands has been developed after months of extensive market testing both here and overseas. The overwhelming feedback is that visitors from key markets want the opportunity to explore Ireland’s natural gems and rural communities. There is also a huge appetite out there for tourists to be active in nature through activities like walking, cycling, angling and boating routes – all of which the Midlands can offer in abundance.”
Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands will now become a tourism development zone with Fáilte Ireland allocating investment and resources across the region.
An initial €2m has been earmarked 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.