Longford-Westmeath TD Robert Troy has raised a debate in the Dáil on why the midlands region was left out of major tourism initiative by Tourism Ireland in the US.

Deputy Troy said: “It is incredible that in 2012, an advertisement that was run in the United States vacation planner published by Tourism Ireland and distributed throughout the USA, with a circulation of 175,000, with no reference to the midlands.  This is critically important for the region and flies in the face the Government’s stated position of using our tourism industry to drive economic growth and job creation.

“With over 44 million Americans claiming Irish heritage there is huge potential for Ireland’s tourism industry and all regions of the country, including the midlands, must be promoted equally particularly when the US is the second biggest overseas market for Ireland. In the same publication in 2010 there were a number of pages promoting the midlands. 

Watch the debate here:

“The midlands has plenty to offer tourists from Belvedere House and Gardens developed by Westmeath County Council at a cost of over €10m to Athlone Castle which was recently renovated, Kilbeggan distillery, Kilbeggan racecourse and our waterways, the River Shannon, the Royal Canal and Grand Canal. 

“On Wednesday I attend the launch of www.mullingar.ie – a fantastic initiative by prominent business people to showcase the town. I want to pay tribute to all those who helped bring this project about including Westmeath County Council, the County Enterprise Board, Celtic Media (which owns my own local newspaper, the Westmeath Examiner) and the Chamber of Commerce.  These groups and the business people who took the initiative with this project are deserving of our acknowledgement.  They are working to promote the midlands where the government is failing.

“I am seeking a commitment from the Government that Minister Varadkar will intervene here with Tourism Ireland.  It must be stated clearly by Government that this situation will not be repeated.  It is essential that there is a regional balance in international tourism initiatives for Ireland and certainly no region should be left out altogether.  It is a disgrace that this has happened to the midlands and if we are to grow the local economy in the region and create jobs we can’t allow a situation where we’re simply ignored.”