This initiative which looks at raising standards, increasing online bookings and offering more activity or themed breaks has shown the way forward for the B&B sector. Thats according to the Town and Country Homes Association, who led the project which part of a Specialist B&B programme. TCH chairperson, Ms Kate Burns says they are delighted with the project results saying; B&B owners themselves played a major part because they were so innovative, and proved both willing and able to develop their business to meet future demands for themed breaks. Under the project, over 35 B&Bs took part in a years training and support to help boost business in rural and regional areas. The B&Bs got to know more about their own area by working with others locally to offer walking, angling, golfing, food and heritage packages. Now they can offer all this information to their visitors and they can spread their business across the local economy. In addition, they linked up across regions and across the border with each other to offer longer breaks for tourists who wish to sample more than one region.An evaluation of the project has shown that all of the participants expect the commercial viability of their business to improve in response to rising occupancy rates and the value added by additional services. Other tourism providers in the area are also expected to benefit because the new product packages include services provided by them.The project says that newly agreed quality standards for B and Bs have been created and that as a result of intensive training, the specialist B and Bs now use home baked and locally produced food that will leave a lasting impression of the region and the country on the visitor. The participants in the project believe that their capacity in IT, emarketing, food hygiene and safety, cost control and understanding of the needs of specialist groups had been improved a lot. Regional and cross-border co-operation has added value to their product for the visitor. And finally, the profile of the product has been raised through good coverage in both national and local media, including a special feature on RTEs Nationwide programme.Town and Country Homes led the project in partnership with Irish Farmhouse Holidays, Fáilte Ireland, the Irish Tour Operators Association, the Northern Ireland Tourism Board and Tourism Ireland.
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