06 Jul 2022

New initiative to bring more visitors to the Sleive Blooms in Laois and Offaly

'Chaotic parking' delays emergency help for an injured elderly woman at Slieve Blooms in Laois

The senic Glenbarrow waterfall in the Slieve Bloom mountains

Laois County Council has launched an initiative aimed at getting more people to the Slieve Blooms by literally directing them there from towns and roads in Laois and Offaly.

The local authority has invited tenders from consultants to develop a Wayfinding Interpretation Strategy and associated signage scheme for Slieve Bloom Mountains in in the two counties.

The council outlines the purpose in the tender published in early January 2022. It primarily wants to provide a consistent approach to navigating and make the Slieve Bloom Mountains easily legible.

"The aim is to improve visitor’s ability to find key attractions and create a narrative that acts to generate a positive user experience at each attraction," it says.

The local authority also wants to improve people’s understanding and inform about the mountains.  Another aim is to clearly communicate the location of all car parks clearly illustrate the location of key attractions including walking times from the main car parks to key attractions and facilities.

The council wants to enhance the experience of the visitor and encourage visitors and residents to explore. It also hopes to initiative will  support tourism through improved visitor experience and therefore "increased dwell time".

The council says the focus area for this project will be within the confines of the M7, N80, N52 & N62 & to include the main surrounding towns including Portlaoise, Tullamore, Birr and Roscrea also limited to the county boundaries of Laois & Offaly

"Road users should be able to clearly navigate their way from these roads/towns to the visitor attractions across the Slieve Bloom Mountains whilst gaining an understanding of the attractions upon arrival," says the local authority.

The council has invited companies to deliver a "bespoke high quality signage strategy" which will enhance the visitor experience and improve wayfinding and interpretive signage around Slieve Bloom Mountains in Laois and Offaly.

It adds that this will require a comprehensive review of existing signage in the Slieve Bloom Mountains in terms of sign location, comprehensiveness, completeness and functionality.

The council says an additional objective of the project is the identification of innovative ways in which Slieve Bloom Mountains could be made more visually attractive to motorists accessing the Slieve Blooms along all the main routes and towns
leading to the mountains within Laois and Offaly

The council proposes finger post / way finding signage that would standard brown and white tourist information sign scheme while also incorporating some logos as appropriate such as the Slieve Bloom “bike it” logo.

Prospective consultants have also been asked to propose a family of interpretive signs mountain bike trails, amenity walks,
heritage trails, biodiversity areas. The council says these should creates a narrative that acts to generate a positive user experience at each attraction.

The local authority also wants designers to propose "a hierarchy of information and destinations" in consultation with Laois County Council.

A full survey of the existing tourist signage for the Slieve Blooms is required as will be the removal of existing incorrect or damaged signs. Existing signage will be replaced where necessary.

So-called 'superfluous' signage will also go where necessary says the council with new signs erected where needed.

The council says wayfinding is more than signage.

"It covers the whole journey, while signage is one element of the journey. It is not just a well-designed map. Wayfinding is an integrated approach to making a Slieve Bloom Mountains accessible to visitors through a variety of methods.

"Anything that contributes to a sense of place contributes to wayfinding. Good wayfinding creates a better experience for people using a space by helping them understand where they are and where they are going. It contributes to a sense of comfort and safety and should be effective for people with diverse abilities and levels of understanding.

"Providing visitors with an immersive and interesting experience of exploring the Slieve Bloom Mountains will make them more likely to return," says the council in their invite to companies.

The local authority has set a response date of February 7 2022. 

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