A new Fáilte Ireland brand to emulate the successes of the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland's Ancient East is to focus on Ireland's lakelands.
The new brand, currently the subject of a feasibility study, will promote "slow tourism" including walking, cycling and boating routes along an area through the midlands from south Ulster to north Munster.
The region will include the Shannon lakes and Loughs Allen, Ree and Derg, The area will encompass the towns of Carrick-on-Shannon in Co Leitrim, Athlone in Co Westmeath and Killaloe in Co Clare.
The region also encompasses existing "blueway" tourism amenities such as the waterway and waterside routes through Counties Leitrim and Roscommon. It takes in "greenway" walking and cycling routes such as that linking Mullingar and Athlone in Co Westmeath and walking tails in the Slieve Blooms, in Counties Laois and Offaly and around Lough Derg.
The aim of the brand is to promote healthy tourism, with wholesome foods and exploration of natural habitats.
The new branding measure was revealed by Minister for State at the Department of Tourism Patrick O'Donovan when he addressed the Irish Hotels Federation annual conference in Kilkenny on Tuesday.
Mr Donovan told the hoteliers: "This is not an industry that is focused on one parish or on one part of the country. We have had the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland's Ancient East, and now we are working on a development plan for the lakelands."
No more questions
Mr O’Donovan declined later to answer further questions on the initiative, saying it was in “development”.
Hotels federation president Joe Dolan, who owns the Bush Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon, said consultants Colliers International had been appointed to prepare final details of the plan.
He said the plan would bring together waterside and waterway “wellbeing activities”. “It is about slowing down, slow food, having a healthy lifestyle,” he said.