TOURIST attractions in the Lough Derg area have been put firmly on the digital map.
Shannon Development and North Tipperary County Council teamed up to map over 220 visitor attractions and accommodation providers on Sat Nav systems, which should provide a tangible spin-off for the local economy.
This is the first time that State bodies have come together to utilise new technologies to promote tourism. North Tipperary was chosen as it is home to strategically important tourism assets, such as Lough Derg and historic towns, such as Ballina, where tourism is promoted in partnership with its twin community in Killaloe.
The initiative will enhance the tourist experience by allowing them to see a range of accommodation and attractions within any chosen area.
Speaking at the launch on the reason for undertaking the project, John King, assistant chief executive, Shannon Development said the agency recognised the promotional potential of having tourist information available on Sat Nav units.
“As the number of Sat Nav users has grown, so too has the number of independent travellers who want free, instant and accurate guidance and mapping information on where to go and what to see and do in the area they are visiting. The aim of the project is to address the deficit of information on Sat Nav units in rural Ireland,” he said.
Speaking at the official launch of the Killaloe/Ballina Business Association at the Lakeside Hotel, Killaloe on Thursday night, Alice Morgan from Shannon Development told local traders that completing a number of things for any initiative has a greater overall impact than individual items.
The Strategic Business Infrastructure manager pledged that Shannon Development is planning to expand the North Tipperary GPS project, which could then be included by Garmin and pre-loaded on their systems.
Having met a number of local business people over the past year, Ms Morgan said she was delighted to attend the launch, which marked a milestone in the establishment of this organisation.
“Local associations working in co-operation with other organisations and agencies can provide a catalyst to getting things done, which would otherwise not have happened. Ballina/Killaloe Business Association have ambitious plans and Shannon Development has been pleased to lend support to the local efforts. We hope to see the benefits of this in the future and look forward to continuing to work with your association.
“There are already a number of products under development on the tourism side which can be a platform on which to deliver further business in this community. A few recent examples include the Lakelands and Inland Waterways Initiatives, where the relevant agencies have come together to promote the complete navigable waterways from Lough Erne to Limerick City.
“Under the banner of Lakelands and Inland Waterways, the steering group’s tourism campaign involves national television advertising, destination marketing print pieces, promotions at key travel shows, as well as print media and public relations support,” she said.
Stressing the importance of having a local business association, she stated it is one of the key items of business infrastructure and through its actions, could build and enhance other developments in the area for the benefit of the town.
She pointed out that having an association demonstrated that the towns are pro-business and provide a forum for networking and developing commercial relationships.
Local traders were also provided with a wide-ranging presentation on the need for the Irish economy to become competitive by Irish Small and Medium Enterprises chief executive officer, Mark Fielding.
Meanwhile, Shannon Development is also involved in other technology programmes to promote tourism in Lough Derg and the surrounding area. The use of digital technology forms part of the Shannon Region Trails Programme, launched in 2007 by Shannon Development to develop and promote a series of world-class cycling, walking and canoeing trails throughout the Shannon region.
As part of this programme, some of the physical trails have been digitally mapped to ensure maximum accessibility to the public.
People can access the trails digitally from various websites and download the trails to their GPS units prior to visiting the trails.