I welcome proposals by Fáilte Ireland to increase tourism potential in Galway East. These initiatives have come to fruition following meetings and discussions which Deputy Canney instigated during his role as Minister for the Office of Public Works with Fáilte Ireland, Department of the Environment, and the National Parks and Wildlife. Gaps were recognised in the tourism branding and it was agreed that the best approach was to combine the resources of the various departments to deliver the optimum benefit.
The proposal to launch the Wild Atlantic Way Region in early 2018 will showcase areas not physically on the existing 2750km driving route, to encourage visitors to visit places off the beaten path and explore more in East Galway. Fáilte Ireland also intend to extend the loop of the Wild Atlantic Way to Loughrea, Gort and Craughwell which is also a boost for these areas.
The other significant proposal is to create a new brand for the Midlands. The proposed brand is set to be launched in March of this year. The brand will run from Galway East to Westmeath and include Cavan and Co. Clare.
Business in the new region will carry a new logo and they will be offered all the support available to the Wild Atlantic Way towns and villages. Fáilte Ireland will also run workshops to give businesses the tools to make the most of the designation.
I am delighted to see this type of branding for areas which have to-date been ignored. There is enormous potential for growth in tourism for areas like Tuam, Headford and Athenry. We have so many hidden gems right across Galway East and now recognition is finally being given to these areas. Portumna is a perfect example of a location which has so much to offer in terms of heritage and water amenities. Investment in infrastructure has happened there and now we need to market all that is good in Portumna to realise its full potential. There will be significant investment in infrastructure and marketing forthcoming for the new brands’.
I look forward to the launch of these positive initiatives in spring of this year.