The project, led by Donegal County Council, has received €2.6 million in Interreg VB Atlantic Area funding and aims to increase revenue generated by walking trails and the surrounding businesses.
The research will be undertaken by nine organisations from EU regions, including Ireland, the UK, Spain, Portugal and France, and will be used to promote walking trails, maximise the economic benefit created by them, and promote tourism along the Atlantic coast.
Ulster University will lead on ‘Trail Technology Deployment’ with cross-disciplinary research being undertaken by the Ulster University Business School, who will explore the economic and social relationship between the trails and the surrounding businesses; and the School of Computing, Engineering and Intelligent Systems, who will play a key role in the development and installation of new technology on each trail.
The project will examine and develop new and innovative ways to encourage visitors off the paths and into the surrounding local and rural communities to immerse themselves in new cultural, culinary and life experiences.
Elaine Ramsey, Professor of Business Innovation at Ulster University Business School said;
“Walking trails hold much promise for tourism in particular, and for wider economic and social development in general. TrailGazers will, for example, offer SMEs the opportunity to come together to examine how best to engage with new trail visitors, and help SMEs develop B2C initiatives that will enhance commercial activity.”
Dr Joan Condell, Senior Lecturer in the School of Computing, Engineering and Intelligent Systems said:
“TrailGazers will provide excellent opportunities to bring our local and regional stakeholders together, with co-creation and ICTs at the heart of the project in the development of initiatives linked to virtual tourism and the construction of sustainable tourism destination management plans.”