Castlebar in civic drive to create Ireland's warmest welcome

A vision to position Castlebar as providing Ireland’s warmest welcome is being pursued by a group of local citizens in a totally voluntary capacity. The initiative is set to be the biggest community led initiative of its type ever undertaken in Ireland and embraces civic participation and pride of place.

Ambassadors 2013 is an exciting and innovative campaign which has already attracted major buy-in from the local business community and is set to market Mayo’s county town as a totally unique holiday experience.

Helen O’Hara, described as the energy behind the project, explained to the Mayo Advertiser that it will be a “powerful” brand for the town. However in order to achieve brand integrity she explained that everybody in the town needs to get behind the initiative.

Already the group have the backing of Fáilte Ireland both regionally and nationally, and have benefited from a wealth of advice, direction, and supports.

The initiative is borne out of The Gathering 2013 movement primarily, and will see voluntary ambassadors accompany visitors to the town on historical tours including a chat over a beverage of their choice. The ambassador will provide a concierge service to tailor fit the visitors’ holiday requirements and optimise their stay in the region.

The initiative consists of four important elements: The recruiting of 100 ambassadors; the development of the Love Castlebar card; the launch of the website thefriendlytown.com and participation at Fáilte Ireland customer training which is taking place next week.

Already 56 voluntary ambassadors have pledged their support to the campaign, but the aim is to recruit 100 before the planned national and local media launch in the first week of April and the group is on target to achieve that goal.

The hospitality and retail industries have given their backing to the Love Castlebar card which will see visitors to the town enjoy special offers and discounts from local businesses and clubs.

Thefriendlytown.com website is almost complete and will go live in the coming days.

Helen and her team are currently recruiting participants from the hotels, taxi drivers, bars, restaurants, leisure providers, service stations, tourism volunteers, and ambassadors for the Fáilte Ireland training which will take place on Wednesday and Thursday next week, March 27 and 28. The training, which would cost thousands of euros to provide, is being fully subvented by Fáilte Ireland. There will morning and evening sessions at 10.30am and 7pm with Garda vetted childminders available for the Thursday morning session.

“Be part of it and get involved,” is the plea from Helen who holds an unwavering belief in the towns’ ability and willingness to transform.

The two-hour workshop will focus on the Castlebar Warmest Welcome charter, customer service, and optimising interaction with and experience of tourists.

All participating businesses will receive a copy of the charter; Fáilte Ireland approved Ireland’s Warmest Welcome branding for their premises/vehicle/website as required; a listing on thefriendlytown.com website, Facebook page and Twitter feed, and the benefit of being involved in something extraordinary.

To receive further information on any aspect of the project or to register for a workshop call or text Helen on 087 752 9922, email [email protected] or contact the Love Castlebar card team (Laura ) on 087 697 5181 or (Fergus ) on 087 635 0855.

“You don’t need to make any decision regarding the day or session, just let us know you are going to join Castlebar’s Welcome Revolution,” said Helen.

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