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Website and digital skills funding

Fáilte Ireland will invest €1 million to improve the websites and digital skillsets of visitor attractions and activity providers in the Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands region. This announcement was made by Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, Kevin Boxer Moran, with applications now being accepted by Fáilte Ireland up until Wednesday, 24th July 2019.

Fáilte Ireland’s new Website Improvement Programme will focus on developing a full web improvement plan for the successful businesses which will help them deliver an unparalleled user experience, attract more visitors to the Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands region, and increase awareness of their business and the region.

This new programme will be piloted with at least 40 participating businesses to make their websites more appealing to visitors, helping them to win more customers and to drive more tourist activity to the area.

Speaking about the new programme, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross said:

“Tourism is a major economic driver for Ireland so investing in initiatives that help to sustain and grow the industry is critical. Fáilte Ireland’s new Website Improvement Programme in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands will deliver vital support and funding to businesses and help them present their unique offering professionally, and in a way that builds awareness of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands both domestically and internationally.”

As part of the programme Fáilte Ireland will also provide a range of free supports and training to the participating businesses as well as a high level of funding to implement the changes that are required to their website.

Selected websites will also be fully reviewed and rated before a full web improvement plan is developed and rolled out. The review will address key areas affecting an online customer experience including foreign language accessibility, website responsiveness and search optimisation to ensure the activities and attractions can be easily found by potential visitors.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin said:

“The Website Improvement Programme is designed to make these attractions as appealing as possible for tourists, using the most advanced digital techniques to ensure that the first impression is unforgettable. We are delighted to support businesses in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands to build compelling online stories that will continue to grow what is an essential industry to Ireland’s economy.”

Ireland Hidden Heartlands spans the counties of Leitrim, Longford, Roscommon, West Cavan, East Galway, East Clare and parts of Westmeath, Offaly and Tipperary. The Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands brand was established just over one year ago and this Website Improvement Programme is designed to ensure that the ‘shop window’ of the region is looking its best.

Launching the programme, Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, Kevin Boxer Moran said:

“Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, while still very new, is already making an impact on the ground. The enthusiasm of local businesses together with the progress already made can be seen across all corners of the region. By improving the online presence of attractions and activities this new initiative by Fáilte Ireland is sure to support the region to gain further recognition from potential visitors across the world.”

Paddy Mathews, Head of Operations of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands said:

“A strong online presence is essential no matter what business you are. 92% of all visitors use the internet to research the destinations they are travelling to so easy access to information on what they can experience in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands is essential to building the reputation of Ireland’s newest regional experience brand.

“This initiative aims to ensure that visitors know about the great experiences that are on offer in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands before they visit and are assured that they will have a great time once they get here. We want the first online impressions that any visitor has of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands to be the best it can be.”

Applications to the programme are welcomed from organisations from the private and public sector as well as voluntary organisations. After a simple application process, selected applicants who meet the criteria stated by Fáilte Ireland will be invited to complete the Website Improvement Plan. Once the plan is completed, participants will be eligible for funding of up to €30,000 from Fáilte Ireland to implement the recommended improvements.  Match funding of at least 25% of the costs will have to be met by each participant.

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