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2019/09/25 3:37pm

The Business of Literature - Major Literary Tourism Initiative Set To Enhance Commercial Capacity

The Old Bank Bookshop
Major new three-year literary tourism pilot programme set to launch across four Northern European countries this autumn. In Kainuu, the Regional Council of Kainuu and Kajaani University of Applied Sciences participate in the project, cooperating with regional organisations related to literature.

Spot-lit is a new three-year project that aims to grow the literary tourism sector in the Northern Periphery and Arctic region by supporting the 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.

Funded by Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme, the regions participating in the Spot-lit programme area are Western Ireland, Northern Ireland, Eastern Finland and South-West Scotland.

All the regions share a number of common features such as low population density, low accessibility, low economic diversity, abundant natural resources, and high impact of climate change. 

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 NPA Region make it a sector that is ripe for development.


Spotlit logo

Spot-lit 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 programme will include the development of a cluster network across the regions, a series of support workshops, the development of 20 new literary products or services and shared learning and transnational marketing. 

Speaking on the occasion of the launch of the project, CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin of the Western Development Commission said: “We are delighted to launch this programme today following an extensive period of research and development. Spot-Lit has the capacity to deliver tangible benefits to under-tapped regions across Europe through the literary tourism sector which we know has the potential to be a major economic driver. We encourage any organisation or business in the literary tourism sector to visit our website and sign-up for our information road shows in early October.” 

This autumn, the Spot-lit partners in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Finland will deliver a series of workshops for businesses interested in Literary Tourism development.

Workshop 1: Building Successful Literary Tourism Experiences for Visitors
Workshop 2: Designing and developing your Literary Tourism product or service
Workshop 3: Knowing and growing your market

Following on from the 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 engage with 5 businesses in each country and will include a €10,000 innovation voucher. The focus of the business idea/product will be for the development of Literary Tourism.

The project will officially launch in September with a new website at, dedicated social media channels @spotlit_eu, followed by a call out for literary businesses and organisations to register their interest for upcoming events and workshops. 

The project will run from March 2019 until September 2021.

NPA logotype


Additional Information

Spot-lit is a new EU-funded programme for the literary tourism industry in the NPA Region. Partners in this project include:

  • Western Development Commission, Ireland (Communication Lead Partner)
  • Irish Central Border Area Network (Lead Partner), Northern Ireland
  • Arts Over Borders, Northern Ireland
  • Wigtown Festival Company, Scotland
  • Kajaani University of Applied Sciences, Finland
  • Lapland University of Applied Sciences, Finland
  • Regional Council of Kainuu, Finland
  • Reykjavik UNESCO City of Literature, Iceland (Associate Partner)
  • Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature. Scotland (Associate Partner)


About the NPA Region

The Northern Periphery and Arctic 2014-2020 forms a cooperation between 9 programme partner countries. The NPA 2014-2020 is part of the European Territorial Cooperation Objective, supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and ERDF equivalent funding from non EU partner countries.

Despite geographical differences, the large programme area shares a number of joint challenges and opportunities that can best be overcome and realised by transnational cooperation. It is the programme’s vision is to help to generate vibrant, competitive and sustainable communities, by harnessing innovation, expanding the capacity for entrepreneurship and seizing the unique growth initiatives and opportunities of the Northern and Arctic regions in a resource-efficient way.

Regional Profiles 

Ireland, known to many as the land of saints and scholars, is today home to numerous writers, poets and dramaturgs. The Spotlit EU region is the West of Ireland is renowned for its literary heritage; it is synonymous with the internationally recognised poet William Butler Yeats, songwriter Percy French, writer Pádraic Ó Conaire and many more. The region celebrates its literary heritage through modern-day festivals and events such as the Yeats Summer School, the Tread Softly Festival, the Doolin Writers Festival, Letterfrack Poetry Trail, Baboro International Arts Festival for Children, and the Lady Gregory Autumn Gathering, amongst others.

The Kainuu Region in northern Finland is another partner region where Spot-Lit project partner. The Regional Council of Kainuu is working with the literature associations. Cultural life in Kainuu is regarded as lively with year-round professional and amateur theatre, musical training, modern dance, music festivals and the Kajaani poetry festival.
The Kalevala is a national poem of Finland featuring old Finnish ballads, lyrical songs, and incantations that were a part of Finnish oral tradition. Today, it inspires place names, business names, contemporary culture and art and is celebrated at events throughout the year. The Juminkeko Culture Centre is of national importance and showcases Kalevala heritage. Significant literary figures from this region include Elias Lönnrot, Eino Leino, Ilmari Kianto, Veikko Huovinen and Isa Asp.

Uniquely rugged, Northern Ireland provides an untapped resource of literary talent, history and heritage. The birthplace of Seamus Heaney, the region has connections with Patrick Kavanagh, Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde. A rich calendar of cultural and literary festivals and events each year include the Bard of Armagh, the Happy Days Enniskillen International Festival and The Wilde Weekend. Arts Over Borders present literary festivals which celebrate a strong sense of place, both rural and urban, throughout border communities and landscapes – what is now regarded as the northern literary lands.

The Scottish town of Wigtown is well known for its Wigtown Book Festival with a wide programme of over 300 events, but it is also Scotland’s designated ‘National Book Town’ due to its high concentration of bookshops. The Georgian townhouse Moat Brae also inspired the author JM Barrie, creator of Peter Pan and most recently the house opened in July 2019 as a visitor centre  -Peter Pan's Enchanted Land - along with a National Centre for Children's Literature and Storytelling. Big DoG, a children’s book festival, also takes place in Wigtown. Scotland is also home to Robert Burns, Scottish poet and lyricist widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland.

Additional info