Waterford has recently marked the successful conclusion of the Fáilte Ireland Destination Towns initiative, a groundbreaking project that has significantly enriched the visitor experience within the city.
The project, generously supported by a €500,000 investment from Fáilte Ireland, has achieved its objectives, breathing new life into Waterford City's cultural and historical treasures.
The initiative was celebrated in the presence of esteemed guests, including Mary Houlihan, Manager for Ireland's Ancient East at Fáilte Ireland, alongside local councillors, and representatives from the business community.
The project's core goals were clearly defined at its inception:
Reinforcing the Viking Story: Waterford City embarked on a mission to deepen the understanding of its Viking heritage. This was achieved by demarcating the Viking Triangle's boundaries and introducing cutting-edge digital orientation tools.
Wayfinding Improvements: A comprehensive wayfinding scheme was developed, ensuring that visitors can effortlessly navigate the city. This included innovative content generation techniques.
Mapping Enhancements: The project unveiled a new city map, highlighting various city zones and emphasizing Waterford's walkability.
Car Park Reidentification: Signage and banners, denoting the city's attractions, were strategically placed at car parks to provide a warm welcome and promote the city's charms.
The culmination of these efforts has yielded tangible results, enhancing Waterford City's appeal to tourists and locals alike.
Earlier this year, the city unveiled the Digital Story Trail—a collaborative effort between Waterford City and County Council and software company Imvizar. This self-guided tour offers visitors a unique virtual reality opportunity to immerse themselves in the city's rich culture and history, promoting longer dwell times as visitors explore the city at their own pace.
Expressing his satisfaction with the initiative, Mayor of Waterford City and County, Cllr. Joe Conway, extended his appreciation to everyone involved in the project, saying, “This project which today comes to fruition is an initiative that has undoubtedly accomplished so much and done so much to enhance the visitor experience in Waterford City.
“The vision was a simple one - how to make Waterford an outstanding tourism, historical and cultural destination for visitor and locals alike.
“With the investment of half a million euro from Fáilte Ireland, and the foresight, knowledge and expertise of stakeholders, these goals have been achieved.”
The introduction of new wayfinding signage has also made traversing the city more straightforward, thanks to fingerpost signs and monoliths. These additions, along with banners and Viking structures denoting the Viking Triangle, have created a cohesive and welcoming atmosphere, all while delivering a consistent message throughout the city.
The newly introduced city map adheres to Fáilte Ireland's place-marking guidelines, effectively dividing the city into sections: Shopping, Night Life, The Viking Triangle, and The Cultural Quarter. This invaluable resource showcases Waterford's array of attractions, including Waterford Treasures, the scenic Waterford Greenway, and the historic City Walls & Towers.
Collectively, the elements of Destination Towns have amplified the visitor experience, highlighting Waterford's rich cultural and historical heritage. Whether you are a local or a visitor, these enhancements offer greater satisfaction, encouraging longer stays in Waterford City.
Speaking on the project, Mary Houlihan, Manager for Ireland's Ancient East, Fáilte Ireland said, “Fáilte Ireland is committed to and focused on the sustainable development of tourism across Ireland which is an important economic driver and source of employment. We look for every opportunity to expand the number of appealing destinations that offer compelling visitor experiences with the potential to drive visitors across the regions. Initiatives like our Destination Towns scheme are critical in doing this by boosting the tourism appeal of destinations across the country.
“Fáilte Ireland’s work in partnership with Waterford City and County Council has made a definite impact on the appeal of Waterford as a tourist destination and will encourage visitors to stay longer, spend more and immerse themselves in the history, heritage and culture of Ireland’s oldest city.”