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Over 40,000 attendees at this year’s Holiday World Show in Dublin were given the chance to cruise, walk, cycle and canoe along County Leitrim’s Shannon Blueway, which is located in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, with the help of the region’s new Slow Adventure virtual reality (VR) experience.
Now in its 30th year, Holiday World returned to Dublin’s RDS on January 24-26, promoting a wide range of holidays to visitors from all over Ireland and it was there that Leitrim Tourism unveiled its new state-of-the-art VR experience.
From the comfort of a high-tech pod chair, visitors to the Leitrim Tourism stand were transported on a journey around Leitrim’s Shannon Blueway by simply donning a virtual reality headset, which contained a choice of four different Slow Adventure experiences, including cruising, walking, cycling and canoeing.
The headset immerses the viewer in the activity, giving them an amazing insight into what it’s like to visit the region, whether from the water with canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, or a walking and cycling experience along the Blueway’s trails and taking in the scenery on land.
The novel way to explore the county’s sights and delights was welcomed by Lar Power, Chief Executive Leitrim County Council.
“We are delighted to unveil our new virtual reality experience at this year’s Holiday World exhibition to help us bring to life the Shannon Blueway and the Slow Adventure offering in Leitrim,” said Mr Power.
“Who would have thought that by sitting down and popping on a VR headset, you could travel along the Shannon Blueway under the bridges, alongside the riverbanks and through sunlit tree arches all the way from Drumshanbo to Carrick-on-Shannon – one of the many wonderful and unique experiences that visitors to Leitrim can enjoy.
“This is a tremendous example of how technology can be used innovatively to provide the potential visitor with a taste of what they can expect, and thus encouraging them to come and try the real thing!” he added.
Following its Holiday World launch in Dublin, the Slow Adventure VR experience will now be showcased at several events across Ireland and housed in Leitrim Tourist Office all year round.
Slow Adventure Tourismis an increasingly popular tourism concept that is based on replacing those adrenaline-pumping, quick fix adventure hits with a slower more immersive experience in which visitors can engage more fully and learn about the local environment, food and wildlife whilst taking part in an activity.
Over the past four years, Leitrim Tourism has been working with local providers to develop the concept and offer an array of packages and experiences to meet the criteria and principles of the Slow Adventure Trademark and appeal to visitors who prefer life in the slow lane.
One such example is with Leitrim’s Shannon Blueway, which features in the Slow Adventure VR experience.
Sharon Lavin, Head of Marketing and Communications at Waterways Ireland said: “We are delighted to collaborate with Leitrim County Council on the development of a virtual reality experience showcasing the splendor of the Shannon Blueway.
“This remarkable technology captures the imagination of potential visitors allowing them to immerse themselves in the unique experiences of the Shannon Blueway. Potential visitors can now try before they buy, however, we would encourage them to experience the real thing and paddle, walk or cycle the beautiful Shannon Blueway.”
The project was funded by the Department of Community and Rural affairs under the Outdoor Recreation scheme and supported by Waterways Ireland. Leitrim Tourism Trade providers, staff of Leitrim County council and Waterways Ireland participated in filming of the VR experience.
The Slow Adventure concept supports Failte Ireland’s brand for the area; Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, which encourages visitors to be active in nature and where activity and relaxation are centred around rural communities and their lifestyles.
A range of Slow Adventure overnight breaks and day trips are available with experiences including guided tours where visitors get local information on the flora and fauna, stories, folklore myths and legends.
Overnight packages include accommodation close to nature such as glamping, shepherds’ huts, eco and log cabins, while slow food is also an important part of the experience, using local ingredients from local producers.
More information on Slow Adventure experiences in Leitrim can be found at http://slowadventure.ie/.