ARDEE business people will meet today (Wednesday) with county and national tourism chiefs to see how Ardee and mid-Louth can be made a major part of a new tourism drive for the region.
The Louth Tourism and Heritage Action Group will launch its action plan for 2011 and beyond, in Darver Castle, and later members of Ardee Traders and Business Association will meet the tourism leaders in Ardee to see how Ardee can become part of the Bru na Boinne tourism route.
The plan will be launched by Mr Eamonn McKeon CEO of the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation .“We hope to have a real imput into this tourism plan,” a spokesperson for the traders said. “We believe Ardee Castle could play a vital role if it is opened up and we would encourage guided tours of Ardee Castle.
“It could be part of a trail for touring buses in the region.”
The Louth Tourism and Heritage task force is headed by Mr Ray Carroll from Kilcurry who masterminded the staging of the Ryder Cup in Ireland, the biggest sporting event the country has ever seen.
He believes tourism in the county is too fragmented and there is an urgent need to co-ordinate the sales approach.
“We are wasting money at the moment because of a lack of cohesiveness,” Mr Carroll said.
He wants to target sport and entertainment, food and festivals, heritage and culture and make full use of technology as 30 per cent of all bookings are now coming through websites.
A major part of the plan is to link tourism here with neighbouring counties.
The group has stated that the Boyne region is one of the most historical in the country and that Ardee should be developed as a heritage town and linked up with tourism in Meath, Monaghan, Armagh and Down.
Mr Brian Walsh curator of the County Museum in Dundalk has told Ardee Town Council that work is well underway towards making Ardee Castle a major tourism attraction.
A major assessment of the castle has been carried out by an architect from Fingal County Council who last week has put forward proposals to Ardee Town Council for making the building accessible to everybody.
Ms Fionuala May told the council that Ardee Castle is the oldest fortified town building in the country.
She pointed out that planned development of the castle will work.
The county council, through Mr Walsh, is pushing ahead with plans to turn the castle into a major museum.
The building was renovated in the 1990s but it was then discovered that because it was not designated for a specific purpose, it could not be used fully by the public.