Laois is better off being promoted by a developed tourism brand related to history according to the Chairperson of Laois Tourism.
Chairperson Ian Finnan has said that he understands the decision to exclude Laois from the latest Failte Ireland tourism plan for the Midlands.
Ireland's Hidden Heartlands was launched in Athlone today on the banks of the River Shannon which is set to be the focus of the €2m project.
Mr Finnan told the Leinster Express that following meetings with Fáilte Ireland he thinks Laois is better off in a tourism brand related to history.
“Laois tourist attractions are more historically related which ties in more with Ireland’s Ancient East.
“The new plan is based on the Shannon corridor and my view is that it is a fabulous new brand,” he said.
When asked if he thought that the new bike trail in the Slieve Bloom Mountains could be part of the greenways included in the new Hidden Heartlands plan in the future, Mr Finnan said that it has potential but the consensus during meetings with Fáilte Ireland was that Laois was best placed in a “more developed brand”.
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.
Offaly, Tipperary and Westmeath are also part of Ireland's Ancient East and will benefit from both branding campaigns.
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.
The Beara Breifne Way, which spans from the Beara Peninsula in Co. Cork to Blacklion in Co. Cavan will offer a compelling walking experience developed to international standards under the Hidden Heartlands brand.
It is planned that a series of food networks and trails will also be developed as part of the new brand.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross T.D launched Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands in Athlone today.
“I’m delighted to launch Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands – a new brand which will significantly enhance the Midlands as a tourism experience and bring growth and jobs to the whole region.
"We have always been committed to ensuring that Ireland’s success as a world-class tourist destination is shared among the regions.
"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 said.
Minister of State for the Office of Public Works, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran T.D. from Westmeath was happy with the plan which he said has been in the pipeline for two years.
“Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands will transform the Midlands and how it is positioned to tourists. I’ve heard first-hand from people and businesses across the region about the major potential this area has to attract visitors and the willingness there is to grow tourism.
“It is fantastic at last to have a tailored brand for the Midlands as this is just what we needed to develop local tourism and unite our visitor experiences behind an offering of scale," he said.