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Wild Atlantic Way to have major benefits for Donegal


Donegal County Councillors Bernard McGuinness, Martin McDermott, Nicholas Crossan, Rena Donaghey and Paul Canning with Cathaoirleach Cllr Ciaran Brogan and Mayor of the Letterkenny Municipal District, Cllr Gerry McMonagle with Barney McLaughlin and Paddy Doherty from the Council's Community and Enterprise section with Chief Executive of Donegal County Council, Seamus Neely at the second annual ‘Connecting the Wild Atlantic Way’ tourism conference.


The collective marketing of Donegal and a positive attitude in presenting this to the world wide tourism market is crucial if we are to continue to benefit from the growth of the Wild Atlantic Way.


That was the message from Donegal County Council’s Chief Executive and  Chairman of Donegal Tourism, Ltd, Seamus Neely when he addressed the second annual ‘Connecting the Wild Atlantic Way’ tourism conference which was held in the Clanree Hotel, Letterkenny last Friday.


The theme this year, ‘Your Business, Developing Networks, Reaching Customers’ attracted a huge attendance from all over the county and beyond.


Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Ciaran Brogan told delegates that over the past number of years the Council had made tourism one of their main priorities and they were currently spending over €½ million marketing the county while a lot of work had gone into the development of projects such as Sliabh Liag, Fanad Lighthouse and Malin Head.


“I think it’s fair to say that in Donegal we have the best product development than anywhere else in the whole country. Today is about networking, sharing information and getting to know one another and maybe learning from one another how best to deal with the challenges we all have going forward,” he said.


He added the Council was delighted it had a very good working relationship with the tourism industry in Donegal as it was a huge employer and crucial to economic development.


Mayor of Letterkenny Municipal District, Cllr Gerry McMonagle welcomed the delegates to the town, reinforced the theme of cooperation throughout the industry and spoke of the major attractions and the ones yet to be developed that if developed to their full potential, would continue to attract tourists to the county.


Maximize Potential

Chief Executive Seamus Neely congratulated the industry for embracing the Wild Atlantic Way in such a short period of time and making the considerable effort to develop new networks that would help reach more customers, maximize the potential on their online digital platforms and showcase what their businesses has to offer.


“Visitors numbers are rising because of a collective strategic approach which has been adopted by the entire industry across the county. The opportunity to network can act as an opportunity to explore how we as a county can send an even stronger message to markets at home and right across the world – the message that Donegal and the Wild Atlantic Way is open for business and looking forward to the years ahead,” he said.


He said a key part of the conference was to update and improve marketing techniques and he knew from feedback from last year’s event that web-marketing and web-booking potential had improved because its potential had been highlighted.


He also highlighted the success of developments like the Donegal Gathering and Donegal Tourism, their successful websites and apps and the continued growth of their world wide reach in promoting the Donegal ‘brand’.


Mr Neely encouraged all tourism providers to get their business, event or festival listed for free online publicity via Donegal Tourism online channels by sending details to: [email protected]


He added that today tourism in Donegal in vibrant, modern, customer driven, and professional but most importantly of all, it remains authentic and this is our real strength.


He believes the Wild Atlantic Way holds great opportunities for Donegal and that we are really only beginning to see the first benefits of it and that there are multiples more by way of traffic, visitors and revenue spent.


“How we collectively tap into that will determine how much of that potential we will actually realize. My own view is Donegal is the ‘wild’ part of the Wild Atlantic Way – it’s rugged, it’s beautiful, it’s vast, it has  lovely communities, it has fabulous landscapes, it has the lot” he said.


Other Speakers

Other speakers at the conference included Joan Crawford, Wild Atlantic Way Client Services Manager with Fáilte Ireland. She delivered an overview of the project and its future potential. The conference also heard from a number of other speakers including Brian Harte, Tourism Ireland’s Head of Customer Engagement and E-Marketing; Darragh Doyle, Online Audience Strategist; Kathrin Chambers, Digital Manager at Fáilte Ireland; Stephen Cotter, General Manager at CIE Tours International and Fionn Davenport, Travel Writer.


Case study speakers at the event included Deirdre McGlone from Harvey’s Point Hotel, Donegal Town; Helen Haworth, Portsalon Luxury Camping and Ireland By Bike founder, Seamus Gallagher from Carrick. They presented case studies in their particular areas of expertise. The event also saw the distribution of promotional materials, speed networking and question and answer sessions. You can check out presentations on YouTube


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