Fáilte Ireland’s pushing of the ‘Ireland’s Ancient East’ brand, while not making any formal hay with the ‘sunny south east’ moniker we are more readily familiar with, appears to be a flawed approach, in our view.
This Ancient East marketing is primarily aimed at international tourists, and while we realise that we may not be branded as a sun destination in the Mediterranean sense of the expression, it’s a trio of words that are nonetheless readily associated with the south east region.
As a brand name, The Wild Atlantic Way has proven very successful and had Waterford, as an Atlantic coastal county been included, as is geographically the case, then this wider branding issue would be of little consequence to us.
Ireland’s Ancient East readily applies to Newgrange, Tara, as well as Knowth and Dowth, so Waterford’s shoe-horning into this concept still feels like a token fobbing off on Fáilte Ireland’s behalf.
What constitutes ‘Ancient’ is certainly up for debate: do we start in Celtic, Norman or Viking times. Either way, it’s a wide span of history which certainly does not lend itself to the near instant geographic connectivity which the Wild Atlantic Way provides, running all the way from Donegal to West Cork.
So attempting to marry all of this history in such a jigsaw puzzled region, essentially running from the border, through the midlands and into the south east., is not working nearly as effectively from a tourism perspective.
Which brings one back to the ‘Sunny South East’ concept, which could be broadened and interpreted to reflect the friendly welcome our region provides to visitors. Why not push this angle more?
Tramore, along with the wider Waterford and Wexford coastal areas in particular have traded on this marketing slogan for years. An aged road sign on approach to Tipperary Town from Limerick welcomes visitors to the South East. Why not have more of this as part of a fresh new marketing campaign?
It’s well known in Dublin that our region features the country’s best weather and the M9 makes us an improved alternative for a short break, given that we’re both drier and cheaper than both Galway and Killarney, for example.
And last week was a case in point when the stunning weather brought visitors from far and wide to our coastline.
This weekend’s Tramore Races mark the start of the summer season given that it’s the traditional Whit Weekend.
The need for greater and more specified marketing for domestic tourism may need to be considered in the wake of increased levels of terrorist attacks and alerts across Europe, the additional security protocols at major airports and the confusion and upset caused at the weekend due to the British Airways computer system crashing.
We passed through London Stansted the weekend before last and couldn’t help but notice the mass of stressed-out tourists late for trains due to road and rail problems en route to the airport.
Supporting local tourism has to be a major goal in addition to supporting local events and festivals. As the column opposite also notes, we should be proud of what we have in the sunny south east and really ought to make more of it.
The success of the Greenway has shown the great potential and Dungarvan is getting a major tourism lift form it. Long may that continue. But we must talk up our region – ideally in a sunnier manner.