The midlands should receive more promotion as a tourist destination – which would boost the local economy and create sustainable rural employment, according to Midland North West MEP Chris MacManus.

MacManus was speaking on the matter this week after a meeting with Castlepollard Local Development group alongside Meath West TD Johnny Guirke.

Speaking in the Westmeath town, the MEP said: “Castlepollard is a beautiful part of the country with a number of local attractions that would interest visitors.

“It’s clear that the region has been underestimated in terms of its tourism potential over the years and it would be of enormous benefit to the area if tourist traffic could be increased. It would boost the local economy, benefitting local businesses and creating sustainable employment in the area.

“While other parts of the country have benefitted from promotion as tourist destinations by tourism bodies, Westmeath and the midlands as a whole have been left behind,” the Sinn Féin MEP argued.

On this, he said there has to be greater promotion of the area, particularly to help the region take advantage of the huge rise in ‘staycations’ due to the pandemic.

“For any local tourism initiative to be successful it is vital that it is part of a wider plan to stimulate tourism throughout the State.

Noting that his party has proposed a scheme which would allocate a voucher worth €200 to every adult and €100 for every child to be spent locally in hospitality or tourism, MacManus said:

“This plan would give workers and families a break by putting money back in their pockets, while also boosting local economies through increased spending in local tourism and hospitality.”

“Such a scheme alongside increased promotion of the region as a tourist destination would undoubtedly enable Castlepollard and the surrounding areas to reach its tourism potential.”