Cllr. Rachel Doherty is spearheading a campaign to bring a stage of round one of the World Rally 2009 to Boyle. She has made a strong case to government Deputies and Senators in counties Roscommon, Leitrim and Sligo to lobby Minister Seamus Brennan, Minister for Arts Sports and Tourism to support a stage for Boyle for Round 1 of the World Rally. ‘I believe that a strategic response is required by the politicians and the agencies to make this happen for Boyle. I am also in close contact with Sean O’Connor of Rally Ireland and they are anxious to support Boyle in this bid. Rally Ireland was very impressed with the success of the rally festival in Boyle last year and they believe that we have the dedication and enthusiasm that is needed to make an even greater event in 2009. In making the case I have stressed that this event is critical to efforts in promoting tourism in North Roscommon. ‘In fact the worldwide coverage of the rally would provide a real chance to showcase our natural assets and unspoilt scenery. We have a range of diverse and high quality visitor attractions, lakes and rivers and a peaceful rural landscape. However we don’t have the volume of visitors they tend instead to go to the better-known ‘honey pot’ locations. It has been acknowledged by Fáilte Ireland West that Roscommon is the lesser-known county in the Western region. Tourism remains an untapped resource in Roscommon. This fact will continue to be a huge challenge for Fáilte Ireland West as they attempt to spread visitor numbers more fairly throughout the Western region (Galway, Mayo and Roscommon). ‘In the recent product audit commissioned by Fáilte Ireland, Galway and Mayo ranked in the top six counties in Ireland, with Roscommon modestly placed at 17. The tourism product base in Roscommon is less developed therefore Roscommon needs to build on its strengths. Currently Roscommon is promoted as part of the Western Region with Galway and Mayo. There is no doubt that Roscommon is being diluted in this mix. My personal belief is that Roscommon should be promoted as part of the North West Region (Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal). Roscommon has a natural affinity with these counties in terms of tourism. ‘We need to build on our awareness and image and we need to have a major event, sporting or otherwise, that has the appeal to attract literally thousands of visitors. The Rally provides us with that opportunity and the benefits of securing a stage in Boyle would provide major spin off from the B&Bs, the shops, the garages and so on.’ Cllr. Doherty concluded by saying that it is critical that North Roscommon, which has been starved of revenue from tourism, be given a chance to become a serious player in the hope of developing a sustainable tourism culture for the future.