A branded visitor experience encompassing the rich heritage & cultural assets that Ireland has to offer in the Eastern & Southern region
This project was developed as a reaction to the challenging economic climate since 2008, which had a negative economic impact on tourism in Ireland. The East & South of Ireland was identified as a regional area which was underperforming, despite its rich history and cultural heritage. There was a need to re-position this area from a transit zone to a touring destination.
• Main objective - to make Ireland’s Ancient East the most engaging, enjoyable & accessible cultural holiday experience in Europe
• Encourage tourists to explore ‘off the beaten track’ and re-position the East & South as a region to explore
• 256 county-boundary signs & 76 visitor orientation signs installed in conjunction with local authorities
• Publication of Ireland’s Ancient East ‘ Path to Growth’ strategy document in 2016
• Training delivered to 4,500 frontline staff, Service Excellence & Storytelling workshops held to give stakeholders & guides knowledge needed to position the region as a must-see destination
• 51 IAE branded tours currently being offered as part of efforts to increase visitor numbers, bednights & dwell time
• Small Grant Scheme for Storytelling, 2017 introduced to enhance storytelling aspect
• Driving shoulder-season growth through spring & autumn marketing campaigns
Stakeholders include Fáilte Ireland, Local Authorities, Local tourism operators & Local community groups
• A specific dedicated Ireland’s Ancient East team was established, consisting of 12 Fáilte Ireland staff, and employing consultants as required.
• €31Million capital investment to date
Evidence of success
IAE is meeting its objectives to boost visitor numbers, revenue & regional employment while enabling the brand to become less fragmented, increasing visitor experiences. The following gains were noted:
• Initiative credited for creation of 31, 693 extra bednights in 2017
• IAE brand generated 72% of new business growth in respective regional areas
• Average growth for visitor numbers to attractions in 2017, compared to 2016 is 13%, with 14% increase in revenue
• With East & South areas acknowledged as generally underperforming & overlooked regions, there is risk of over-promise in terms of the ambitious growth projections
• Potential branding confusion with region comprising of both Eastern & Southern parts of Ireland
Potential for learning or transfer
With attractions spanning 5,000 years’ of history, the concept is transferrable to other regions with comparable landscapes and character. An emphasis is placed on experience and storytelling by ‘the best story tellers in the world’ and the route is targeted towards the ‘culturally curious’ type of tourist, who enjoys connecting with nature, venturing off the beaten track and ‘wandering through time’. Other international regions who wish to engage this kind of tourist through highlighting natural resources and existing structures could certainly learn from the initiative. Uniquely, the project is all about highlighting and enhancing what Ireland already has to offer, rather than development of new infrastructure. Any country or region that is rich in history, culture and architecture could learn from this initiative and unlock sustainable economic growth and cultural enhancement for their region.