Rebranding, a Tourism Accademy, a town experience, and a jazz picnic are some of the ideas proposed along side developing new and existing attractions in the Strategic Plan for Tourism in Laois 2018-23.
The five year plan identifies some key projects which it terms "Destination Connector Projects.
It identifies projects which it sees as contributing to "the strategic destination positioning of Laois and which possess the characteristics to be catalysts for tourism in Laois."
These are: The Rock of Dunamaise, Slieve Bloom Bike and Walking Trails; Nature and Bog Innovation; and Accessible Waterways.
It says a new desination brand and marketing communications approach will be created for tourism in Laois.
'The tourism brand should focus on a 'Visit Laois' consumer proposition. This should reflect 'a diversity of experiences' such as 'a heritage of adventure'.
Also propsoed is the creation of a collaboration project, the Tourism Academy which will be the focal point for tourism networking, collaboration and training
The creation of a Laois Towns Experience Project designed to develop a central story/historic theme. Mountmellick would have a Quaker theme with Portarlington's French Hugenot links highlighted. Mountrath would be marketed for its Slieve Bloom location while Stradbally would have an arts theme.
It suggests development of the Maryborough Fort in Portlaoise as a tourism stimulus project for Portlaoise to position the town as 'an engine for touris' in Laois.
In terms of events the plan proposes the business tourism potential is significant.
“The aspiration for Laois as Ireland's meeting place will be achieved through industry collaboration to market the county as the Meeting and Conference Centre of Ireland,” it says.
It says an increaesed focus must be put on events such as the Scarecrow Festival, Gordon Benett Rally, Bulfin Heritage Cycle.
An Ireland's Ancient East Golf Trophy could be one of the sporting events the county could host.
Developing a Big Events concept for niche cultural events is propoposed.
The re-creation of the jazz festival in Portlaoise as 'Jazz Picnic' is seen as having national potential in the 'shoulder season'.
The plan also proposes the employment of a dedicated Tourism Marketing and Development Officer to manage strategic development.