filed under: international trails

Shannon Region Trails Programme in Ireland

The Shannon Region Trails Programme is a Shannon Development-led initiative which aims to establish the Shannon Region as a world-class destination for walking, cycling, water-based and other outdoor activity pursuits during the period 2007-2010.

Main elements of trails programme

  • Upgrade existing walking, cycling, water-based and other outdoor activity trails
  • Develop and implement new trails
  • Create distinctive branding for Shannon Region Trails tourism product
  • Provide new Shannon Development website for Shannon Region Trails to compare with the highest international standards

This will be achieved by developing and branding a fully integrated network of walking, cycling, water based and other outdoor activity trails to highest international standards. The development of a world class recreational trail network will secure long term sustainable economic benefits for less-developed areas of the Shannon Region and is designed to create a network of trails demonstrating a best practice demonstration project for the wider national trails programme. In implementing this new programme, Shannon Development aims to cater for the strong growth in trail-based holidays in Ireland with Irish and international tourists, and to attract tourists to less developed areas, in particular. In a comprehensive three-year development programme from 2007-2010, Shannon Development is seeking proposals from promoters to upgrade existing trails and develop new ones.

The Company will also implement a wide-ranging branding system and dedicated website for trails across the region as part of an intensive marketing campaign. Rationale for new drive National and international tourism trends show that there is strong demand for interesting, well-serviced trails for walking, cycling, water-based and other outdoor pursuits. Such routes enable holidaymakers to explore the unspoiled areas of the countryside and experience the scenery and hospitality of the people at first hand.

Shannon Development has tailored this three year programme to specifically respond to market research findings that reflect changing customer preferences and patterns. These include a tendency among walkers, for instance, to be more "occasional" enthusiasts who stay for shorter periods. The programme aims to develop a top-quality network that will cater for these changing trends and meet exacting international-standards.

Expansion of facilities planned

Under the Shannon Region Trails Programme 2007-2010, Shannon Development proposes to:

  • Extend and upgrade the range and quality of existing marked and signposted cycle trails to highest international standards.
  • Develop new signposted cycle trails at certain key locations in the region, also to highest international standards.
  • Create dedicated cycle ways which will link the region's main cities and access points, such as Shannon Airport.
  • Co-operate with the other agencies involved in completing Ireland's first dedicated mountain biking trail at Ballyhoura Mountains. This 91km mountain bike trail, straddling Counties Limerick and Cork, will include over 25km of purpose-built single track trail.
  • While priority will initially be given to walking and cycling trails, it is intended to also develop trails for other outdoor pursuits, including equestrian and water-based trails for activities such as canoeing.

Increased marketing is an important part of the three-year Shannon Region Trails Programme to 2010 being implemented by Shannon Development.

This intensification of marketing support will include the branding of the trails as a distinct, world-class tourism product. Trails deemed eligible to join the trails network will have common branding/information that will clearly indicate they are an approved trail under the programme. This branding will involve a new Shannon Region Trails logo and marking system, leading to a distinctive independent identity.

All national standards and information, e.g. standard marking systems for National Way-Marked Ways and National Looped Walks, will be incorporated, where applicable. Another marketing initiative planned is the creation of a new Shannon Development website, dedicated to Shannon Region Trails, which will compare with the highest international standards. This website will incorporate features such as downloadable trail guide maps, information on transport, accommodation, activity operators and up-to-date news items including upcoming events.

Shannon Development will continue its promotion of the product through the production of detailed guides and holiday literature, directed chiefly at specialist overseas tour operators and the consumer market. This work is carried out on a co-operative basis, in conjunction with specialist operators and accommodation providers in the region. Promotional efforts mainly consist of attending specialist consumer shows in the major overseas target markets, along with mailings to tour operators, specialist press and walking clubs. The new dedicated trails website will also form a critical part of this overall marketing strategy and action plan. The new regional branding, coupled with the web material and other communications material, will have a common look and feel, to get the message across that everything belongs to one "family" of Shannon Regional Trails.

Further information on any aspect of the Shannon Region Trails Programme can be had from: Flan Quilligan, Shannon Development, Shannon Town Centre, Shannon Co., Clare, IRELAND. Tel: +353 61 710350 Fax: +353 61 361903 - Email: [email protected]

Published May 2007

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