Fishing for tourists

CAMPAIGN Cavan cast the net far and wide for visitors

A number of initiatives are being developed to promote Cavan as a ‘Staycation’ destination in Ireland this summer and build on last year’s success as holidaymakers, once again, find themselves grounded due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Joanne Hayes is the tourism officer for County Cavan and she’s encouraging accommodation providers, restaurateurs and activity providers to work together to put attractive tourism packages in place.

A brand new website is also being developed to promote County Cavan, which finds itself marketed in both Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and Ancient East.

“The focus now is all about the outdoor experience and what Cavan has to offer. What we are endeavouring to do with a lot of our promotions is to position Cavan as a credible and worthwhile tourism destination,” explained Ms Hayes.

The big push is on to attract people to the county for the summer and the Autumn.

“We attracted a lot of visitors last summer that we would not normally get – that included visitors from different parts of the country that might not usually have chosen Cavan. Formerly they might have got abroad and to the coast for a second break. Last year we got visitors from Cork, Waterford and down the country that we would not ordinarily get,” said Ms Hayes.

“Those visitors were genuinely surprised with what Cavan had to offer and how scenic the county is – that is the feedback we received through the industry last year. That gives you confidence that people are genuinely pleased with the experience in the county,” she added.

A Tourism Network Steering Committee is also in place for the county. Ms Hayes explained: “It is made up of representatives of the industry. This group has become very active since the pandemic commenced. They started meeting frequently from last summer.

There are good people involved and they are involved in all different areas of tourism across the county and some are involved at national level.”

Members of that committee include Tony Walker, general manager of the Slieve Russell Hotel in Ballyconnell, who is also heavily involved with the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF); Sheila McKiernan from the Keepers Arms in Bawnboy and Eamonn Gray from the Breffni Arms in Arva.

Fáilte Ireland also has a Destination Recovery Taskforce in place and Brendan Jennings, director of services with Cavan County Council, is a member of that taskforce, along with Ms Hayes and Mr Walker.

In addition to many visitor attractions and activities in County Cavan, Ms Hayes pointed out that these are made all the most attractive by some fabulous hotels in the county and some beautiful restaurants, and vice versa.

“There is enough there to keep people occupied for three or four days, with lots to do and see. The new website will showcase all of that,” outlined the tourism officer.

Ms Hayes revealed that they hope to run a national radio campaign early in the summer to promote Cavan as a tourism destination.

This will also be complimented by a paid social media campaign on Facebook and Instagram. The new website will be mobile enabled and it will work better on people’s phones and iPads.

“It will be a targeted campaign and will be specifically targeted at visitor groups that we know Cavan can cater for. The development of an app is also on the cards,” she outlined.

While there is a good photography bank in place, there are some new offerings that have yet to be photographed for the new website.

This includes the new cycle way at Killykeen, which opened last summer. Located on the Killeshandra side of Killykeen Forest Park, this is an 11km trail off road and it facilitates walking and cycling and was developed by Cavan County Council in conjunction with Coillte.

Angling tourism provides an important economic spin-off for various towns and villages across County Cavan.

“Angling still represents about 30 per cent of all overseas business to County Cavan.

Those towns and villages will have to replace that business this summer with domestic visitors because it is unlikely that we will see the overseas anglers till the Autumn,” outlined Ms Hayes of some of the challenges this summer.

Anglers traditionally stay in Cavan for up to two weeks, which few other visitors do.

Ms Hayes acknowledged that there is no hostel accommodation in the county and pointed out that it is a “gap” in the market.“We would love to see more hostels and more glamping and camping and caravan parks as well. There are very few places for motor homes to park and we have very few places for caravans and camping.

“These are areas that are included in our tourism strategy and Cavan County Council will be encouraging that type of development.

“We are doing our County Development Plan at present and that will all form part of that plan,” concluded Ms Hayes.

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