13 October 2017

New tourism initiative in Munster Vales

A new tourism initiative to attract visitors to the mountain and other attractions of middle Munster has been launched, writes Brian Byrne. The Munster Vales programme was devised by tourism services providers in the areas of the Ballyhouras, the Galtees, Knockmealdown and Comeragh mountain ranges and their associated valleys.

The initiative is a subset within the Ireland's Ancient East idea, and is aimed at focusing attention on the many attractions beyond the major iconic destinations.

Pictured above at the launch in Lismore Castle are Triona O'Mahony, Destinations & Marketing Manager, Munster Vales; Sinead Carr, Chair of Munster Vales Board, with Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Brendan Griffin; and Marie Phelan of Tipperary Tourism.

The Munster Vales marketing concept was initiated when a number of smaller tourism providers realised that while the Ireland's Ancient East programme could bring in big numbers to the iconic attractions, they were 'not getting on the stage' in terms of attracting visitors. "We contacted the various councils in the region and asked them if there was something we could do," says Sinead Carr, chair of the Munster Vales board. "They gave us funding to carry out a feasibility study to see if there was enough in attractions to bring in tourists to the area."

The Munster Vales is considered as the 'historic heartland of Ireland', and abounds in heritage, legendary trails, and activity opportunities. This is what the initiative has pulled together, and is ready to target not just the international tourists who are brought in by Failte Ireland to the greater Ireland's Ancient East, but the very important domestic tourism market.

Hilary Creedon of Ireland's Ancient East is fully behind the Munster Vales concept. "Our brand promise is thousands of heritage years of Ireland, and Munster Vales is very much a part of that. We have stories to tell, but we must remember that our visitors are on holiday, and it is crucial that they get this information in a fun way."

The initiative includes a dedicated social media programme, and the provision of top-quality media to the providers in the region. Kinsale-based photographer Jakub Walutek has provided a range of beautiful images from the region and has also produced the first of four marketing videos, which was launched at the Lismore event.

"We have already produced a number of 'bundles' of attractions which are being made available to where prospective visitors can find them," says Triona O'Mahony, the Munster Vales destination and marketing manager. "They can also log on to MunsterVales.com and see them."

The keynote speaker at the launch was Breifne Earley — adventurer, author, blogger and podcaster — who recalled that the Irish leg of a 29,000km around the world cycle race which he won in 2015 actually took him through the Munster Vales area. "I have no doubt that when people realise the quality of the attractions here, that they will come in numbers. But let us do like we did with The Gathering, let's talk about it, invite our relations and friends to come, and their friends. What you have done here is first class, so keep it going."