All new and improved local tourism websites set to promote Hidden Heartlands brand

Pictured are Richie and Sally O’Hara of Baysports, Hodson Bay, Athlone and Mark McGovern, Fáilte Ireland, following the launch of the Hidden Heartlands Website Improvement Programme.  Photograph by Gerard O’Loughlin

Pictured are Richie and Sally O’Hara of Baysports, Hodson Bay, Athlone and Mark McGovern, Fáilte Ireland, following the launch of the Hidden Heartlands Website Improvement Programme. Photograph by Gerard O’Loughlin

Tourism businesses across the Hidden Heartlands, in which Athlone as a destination plays a significant role, are unveiling new and improved websites following funding and development support from Fáilte Ireland.

The training and investment programme (grant scheme ) was launched in Summer 2019 and was designed especially for visitor attractions and activity providers to help improve the digital shop window of visitor experiences across the Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands region.

A popular tourist amenity during on the shores of Lough Ree at Hodson Bay, Baysports, is an integral local business within the Hidden Heartlands and proprietor, Richie O’Hara, has welcomed the positive impact which the Website Improvement Programme continues to have on the prominent business.

“The results were really exciting. The number of users for our website doubled from 53,667 in the 2019 season to 118,862 in the 2020 season and the page views increased from 227,334 to 1,150,918. Also, our referral acquisitions from the traffic generated by visitors referred by links on other websites increased by 1,344.17 percent during the same periods.

“The Hidden Heartlands Website Improvement Programme also helped us with our Covid-19 compliance measures, rostering and staffing arrangements and eliminating traffic peaks and troughs on a daily basis.

“The knowledge and learnings the team at Baysports have gained from the programme has been significant and our usage of digital systems has streamlined our processes and enhanced connectivity both within our operations and externally,” Mr O’Hara stated.

Mark McGovern, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands Manager at Fáilte Ireland, noted that the Website Improvement Programme was launched to increase the attractiveness of the Hidden Heartlands.

“We launched our Website Improvement Programme to increase the attractiveness of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands by improving the websites of visitor attractions and activity providers in the region. The digital footprint of a tourism business is one of the most powerful tools for attracting visitors and enabling visitors to book experiences online is an important next step.

“Each website really is the shop window for people planning a visit to Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and now, as we look towards recovery, the digitalisation of the tourism sector is more important than ever.

Over the last two years, we have worked closely with businesses to enhance the design and user experience of their websites across all devices, increase online booking capability, improve sales conversion rates and drive revenue. It is fantastic to see these websites come to fruition,” Mr McGovern commented.

Participating businesses were provided with a full digital audit of their website, training by some of the leading Digital Marketers in Ireland, one to one feedback and support and funding of up to €40,000 for website development.

 

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