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The National Geographic Traveller Festival 2017

The people of Donegal have always known that there is something different about this often forgotten part of Ireland, something unique and indeed something very special.

So when an iconic brand that is known globally for its endorsement of places that are filled with exceptional wild natural beauty, combined with all the additional elements that a visitor needs in order to find an experience that goes above and beyond the normal run of the mill travel experience - the World takes notice!

Pat Riddell, Editor of National Geographic Traveller UK (NGTUK) & Maria Pieri, Editorial Director of NGTUK delivering the opening address at the 2017 festival in London.

The fact the Donegal was named, in December 2016, by National Geographic Traveller UK (NGTUK) as the ‘The Coolest Place’ to visit in 2017 is no coincidence; a momentum has been building in this ‘Forgotten County’ for many, many years now.

This influential effect has been reaching outwards and making people more than a little bit curious about, what is considered as a far flung part of Ireland, that travellers are all too often told, is much too difficult to get to.

Pól Ó Conghaile is an award-winning travel writer. He writes for National Geographic Traveller, is travel editor for Independent.ie and Weekend Magazine. Pól was instrumental in recommending Donegal for the Cool List 2017
The epicentre of this influence has been the warmth of welcome that the people of Donegal give to visitors. People make a place and people make memories for visitors. The interaction between those that visit this fine county and those that call it their home, is one of the most enduring memories that visitors can take away from their time here, but there are also many more elements that National Geographic feel makes Donegal the coolest place to visit 2017.

All across the county, from Slieve League to Malin Head, from Stroove to Tory island and indeed everywhere in between, the local people on the ground have been busy elevating Donegal’s global profile to a point where it is, indeed worthy of the title of the ‘Coolest Place’ to visit in 2017.

In Donegal visitors can connect and immerse themselves in what is the wildest part of the Wild Atlantic Way, they can experience the landscape, the history, the built heritage and many of the excellent outdoor activities that are on offer, be those land or water based.

Seamus Neely (Chief Executive, Donegal County Council) Matthew Jackson (Managing Director of NGTUK), Bren Whelan (Donegal Climbing) & Barney Mc Laughlin (Head of Donegal Tourism) at the 2017 NGTUK Festival. 

Across Donegal, a World wise visitor can find an amazingly diverse range of accommodation and sustenance. This is an area that Donegal excels in, from self-catering to B&B’s, hostels to hotels, from farm to fork and through to the freshest seafood dishes, Donegal is amassing a phenomenal trophy cabinet and we should tip our hats to all those working so hard in this vitally important sector of tourism, cause their dedication and attention to detail is a key element in the tourism cycle.

A feast not only for the eyes! This is the work of chef & lecturer Tim Dewhurst of LYIT School of Tourism Killybegs. LYIT are playing a key role in developing food tourism in Donegal.

Equally, creating a permanent tangible connection to the unique Donegal landscape, that lasts beyond a visitor’s time here is critical when the experience and the interactions become somewhat faded, the tangibility of a bond to the destination for a visitor is an essential part of their experience in order to draw their minds eye back to their time here.

This forms a bond, that rekindles the experience and helps to pass on the yearning to return once more to the coolest of places. When a visitor can touch and feel a quality Donegal product, be that a blanket, craving, pen, painting, pottery, tweed scarf or hat to name but a few, their connection to this destination is complete and it is also where the value of those that work across this county to produce the most amazing of Donegal products helps to provide that lasting tangible link in the Donegal experience.

Zoe Mc Intyre, National Geographic Travel writer and author of the 2017 Donegal supplement.

All of these points came across very strongly in our discussions about Donegal at the NGTUK festival and people spoke with passion and emotion about their time in Donegal, in a manner that transcends other travel destinations. This to me, affirmed that Donegal is indeed a very special place to visit and in light of Donegal being named the ‘Coolest Place on the Planet to Visit 2017’, people across the globe are sitting up and taking notice and it is clear that they are not forgetting about this once “Forgotten County” anymore. Well done to everyone!

Finally, I’d like to say a very big thank you to the Donegal Tourism team for allowing me to represent Donegal at the first ever NGTUK Festival in London and for their work in bringing together all of the key elements that make tourism in Donegal the success that it is, your work is very much appreciated by us all.

Bren Whelan, was a speaker at the National Geographic Festival 2017 on behalf of Donegal Tourism. He is a climbing guide & photographer with Donegal Climbing
For all things Donegal check out: www.govisitdonegal.com 

Donegal Launch of the National Geographic Traveller Supplement

The Official Launch of the Donegal Supplement in the National Geographic Traveller Magazine, hosted by The Cathaoirleach Cllr Gerry McMonagle and the Chief Executive of Donegal County Council and the Chairman of Donegal Tourism CLG Mr Seamus Neely, took place on Friday, 1st September in the County House if Lifford.

Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr Gerry McMonagle (L) and Chief Executive of Donegal County Council and Chairman of Donegal Tourism CLG Mr Seamus Neely (R)

Following the announcement that County Donegal was named as the ‘Coolest Place on the Planet 2017’ by National Geographic, the team at Donegal Tourism CLG made contact with National Geographic Traveller to explore potential marketing opportunities that would maximise the exposure Donegal would receive as a result of this prestigious title.

As a result, the 20-page travel supplement dedicated to Donegal and included in the September 2017 issue of National GeographicTraveller is just one of the elements of an extensive marketing campaign that is ongoing with National Geographic Traveller working closely with the Donegal Tourism CLG team.

The Donegal travel supplement was developed by Donegal Tourism Staff, Managing Director and Publisher, Matthew Jackson, Editor Stephanie Cavagnaro, travel writer Zoë McIntyre and photographer Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi.

In addition to online marketing activity where articles about Donegal will feature on the National Geographic Traveller blog and social media, in September 2017 the Donegal Tourism CLG team will travel to London to attend a very special online event hosted by National Geographic Traveller. This is an online live event where representatives from various regions around the world will come together to discuss their destination with a panel of experts. This is a very exciting opportunity to showcase Donegal.

A special thank you also to Zoë for writing with such passion about Donegal and to Alecsandra for capturing the most stunning photos of our beautiful county and for the wonderful representation of the various people that they encountered on their journey. The Donegal supplement is a fine example of the result of their attention to detail and professional work.

The publication can be accessed here: magazine.natgeotraveller.co.uk/donegal17

For all things Donegal visit: govisitdonegal.com