• Three-year literary tourism programme launches across Northern European Regions this Autumn, including Northern Ireland and Border Counties
  • €80K Programme Available to Support Literary Tourism Enterprises in Northern Ireland and Counties Cavan and Monaghan
  • Organisations and businesses encouraged to sign up to January 2020 workshops 

The untapped potential of literary tourism is the focus of Spot-lit, a new three-year project that aims to grow the literary tourism sector in the area known as the Northern Periphery and Arctic region. The new programme will support organisations and businesses in this culturally-rich region to grow, collaborate and better engage audiences together. 

Literary Tourism is an emerging niche sector within the wider cultural tourism sector, where places with literary heritage offer author and fiction-related literary tourism opportunities, along with opportunities arising from literary festivals, trails and book shops. In the Central Border Region of Ireland / Northern Ireland, this would include literary rich locations such as Enniskillen, synonymous with the schooldays of Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett, Patrick Kavanagh in Iniskeen,  County Monaghan, dramatist Brian Friel in Tyrone/Donegal & Derry-Londonderry, Seamus Heaney and Bellaghy in County Derry/Londonderry, and links to Jonathan Swift in Armagh. 

Funded by the EU INTERREG Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme 2014-2020, the regions participating in the Spot-lit programme area are Northern Ireland, the West of Ireland, Eastern Finland and South-West Scotland. Collectively, the region is home to world-class literary icons and landscapes, however, research suggests there is potential for this sector to work together and grow significantly. Current low levels of joined-up literary tourism activity in the Northern Periphery and Arctic Region make it a sector that is ripe for development.

The new Spot-lit project addresses the need for shared development and marketing of existing assets and the development of new ones, which respond to emerging literary and cultural consumer needs. This will result in a better cultural tourism offering and deliver greater economic impact than projects developed in national isolation.

The project will include the development of a cluster network across the regions, a series of support workshops for SMEs, the development of 20 new literary products or services, along with shared learning and transnational marketing. 

In January 2020, a series of 3 workshops for those interested in Literary Tourism product development will be delivered in the Mid Ulster, Armagh, and Fermanagh and Omagh areas. Interested entrepreneurs, SMEs and community enterprises from across Northern Ireland and Counties Cavan and Monaghan will have the opportunity to participate and start to:

  • Build successful Literary Tourism experiences for visitors
  • Design and develop a Literary Tourism product or service
  • Know and grow market opportunities.

Visit www.Spot-lit.eu to find out more. 

Following on from the January workshops, businesses will be invited to participate in a Literary Business Support Programme. The programme will be open to SMEs, social enterprises, community groups and literary associations with a unique idea for the development of Literary Tourism in their area. This bespoke programme will involve a series of monthly engagement workshops, learning journeys, business advice clinics and individual mentoring supports. The programme will also include €10,000 in business development support.

The project Lead Partner is the Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN) Ltd. and speaking about the launch of the SME Businesses Support Programme, CEO Shane Campbell, said: 

‘Spot-Lit is an opportunity to focus on some of the great literary business opportunities that exist within our Region and that have yet to be truly realised. I would urge communities, entrepreneurs and SMEs to engage with the Literary Business Support Programme – one aspect of the work of ICBAN in helping develop the economies of the border region’

In tandem with the Literary Business Support Programme, a new Literary Tourism Model that addresses the realisation of untapped local literary assets will be developed. The starting point for this will be the schooldays of Oscar Wilde in Enniskillen. Led by project partner, Arts over Borders, the model developed will draw extensively from the organisation’s previous County Fermanagh based festival work involving both Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett.

In the words of Arts Entrepreneur and Literary Tourism Specialist Seán Doran:

‘Many towns, villages and small communities across the northern European regions harbour enormous potential to capitalise upon from even the slightest of literary associations.  What delivers economic return is how a location prudently invests in awakening its literary connections rather than necessarily having obvious literary attractions. The activities of the Spot-Lit project will aim to shine a light on this unrealised potential and offer a practical blueprint for how local businesses and communities can realise their bespoke literary connections and assets’

The NPA region in Northern Ireland includes all areas, except for metropolitan Belfast. For the purposes of the Spot-Lit project, businesses and organisations from Northern Ireland and from counties Cavan and Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland are encouraged to register their interest for upcoming events and workshops. 

The project will run until September 2021.