Oakfield Park owner Gerry Robinson gets new tourism body underway
A famous businessman has hailed east Donegal as "one of the best places in the world" at the launch of the new Donegal East Tourism initiative.
A spokesman for Donegal East Tourism said the comment was made by Oakfield Park owner Gerry Robinson last weekend at the launch which aims to promote one of the lesser spotted areas of the county as a tourist destination.
Mr Robinson was speaking 10 years after a previous attempt was made to set up a tourism group in the area in 2008.
The group was finally set up last year and it was launched by Mr Robinson a few days ago, a decade after those earlier attempts.
A Donegal East Tourism spokesman said today: "We showcased east Donegal – from Fintown to Burt - to an audience of tens of thousands at the prestigious Holiday World Shows in Dublin and Belfast January.
"Both our bright new full colour brochure and website were officially launched at the weekend by Mr Robinson at Oakfield Park, Raphoe, where he now lives with his wife Heather.
"The park has been a huge success since opening to the public, with more than 50,000 visitors expected in 2018.
"The former chairman of Granada Television told representatives of local businesses and community groups within the tourism sector that the area had ‘huge potential'."
He told those present: “This is a wonderful initiative for this part of Donegal and indeed all of Donegal. The new brochure and website also have the potential to promote all that is that is great about this part of the world.
“Generally, the history of voluntary bodies is that they get off to a great start and then they die away.
"I hope that will not be the case here. In fact, I hope Donegal East Tourism will be something that will steadily and logically build on this launch and that it will go on to produce something of real value - not in a year, not in five years, but in the next 20 years - to promote an area which is probably among one of the best places in the world.”
The Cathaoirleach of Doneal County Council, Cllr Gerry McMonagle, said at Oakfield Park for the launch that he was hugely impressed with what the area has to offer.
He said: "I’m both delighted and honoured to have been invited here today for the launch of what is a major initiative for the east of the county and, indeed, all of Donegal."
Donegal East Tourism chairman Cronan Scanlon stressed that the group was not just about promoting the area as a tourist destination; he said it was also its aim to make locals more aware of what they have on their doorstep, take pride in it and to boast about where they come from.
He said: "We would argue that, in terms of tourism promotion, this part of the county has been kept a secret for far too long.
"This is despite it being home to one of Europe's best salmon fishing rivers, the Glenfin Gaeltacht, Bluestack Mountains, McElhinney's Stores, Oakfield Park, Dunmore Gardens, Beltany Stone Circle, Lifford Old Courthouse and An Grianan of Aileach."
He added: "The region also has a strong tradition of Irish music, an Ulster Scots heritage and much, much more.
"Donegal East is also the perfect base from which to explore the Wild Atlantic Way, and we should be constantly reminding ourselves of that.
"I would urge you not just to distribute the brochure to potential visitors, but to give it to your friends and family.
"Let them know what a wonderful place they’re living in and that it is something to be immensely proud of. Don’t be shy about coming from Donegal East - boast about it.”
He also appealed to tourism providers, and businesses and community organisations, to assist the group in its efforts to build the area as a strong tourist destination.
The new Donegal East Tourism brochure can be picked up for free from various outlets, including Letterkenny and Donegal Town Tourist Information Offices, The BASE in Stranorlar, Kee’s Hotel, Jackson’s Hotel, the Villa Rose Hotel, Lifford Old Courthouse and Oakfield Park.
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