More than 60 businesses from the west and northwest regions successfully participated in a year-long training and development programme in 2009 specifically aimed at progressing the offering of spiritual tourism experiences for visitors to the area.
In an effort to position the west and northwest of Ireland as world renowned destinations for spiritual tourism, Fáilte Ireland, last year, developed a Spiritual Tourism Learning Network in the western region as part of its overall strategy.
Throughout 2009 businesses involved networked together at finance, web-marketing, business planning, packaging, environmental, and spiritually themed development workshops. The outcome of these was a range of spiritual packages that are ready for visitors to experience in 2010.
The packages are aimed at three types of visitors: Tourists whose primary motivation for visiting a spiritual site is connected to their faith, eg, visitors to Lough Derg and Knock Shrine.
Christian and cultural tourists whose primary motivation is to visit a spiritual site as part of a wider holiday experience. Trips normally include visits to other places of interest in a region, connecting with culture and heritage, and/or visiting family and friends.
Spiritual interest tourists whose primary motivation is to connect with a region’s landscape, culture, heritage, architecture, traditions, and values, and to do this at the region’s spiritual site or sites.
“Fáilte Ireland is delighted that businesses in the region have responded so well to this new development,” said Fiona Monaghan, Fáilte Ireland head of operations in the west. “These regions have great potential to attract the spiritual visitor with the existence of one of the 20 Marian shrines world wide at Knock, the ancient penitential site at Lough Derg in Donegal, and the Christian heritage trails such as the 54 km St Patrick’s Heritage Trail in Mayo leading to Croagh Patrick.
“Coupled with this is a rich and diverse range of sites and trails of religious and spiritual heritage significance, a stunning landscape and our culture, all lending themselves to a region where a need to find a ‘sense of place’ can be really fulfilled.
“Networking and partnership are important now more than ever within the tourism sector and I believe that delivering this and innovative visitor experiences will create a higher value to the tourism sector which is welcomed by Fáilte Ireland and more importantly are potential visitors.”