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Boat tour at Dunluce, Source: Fáilte Ireland / Tourism Ireland

Outdoor water-based activities in Ireland get EUR 19 million funding boost

Outdoor water-based activities in Ireland get EUR 19 million funding boost

World-class facility centres will be developed at 22 locations nationwide in partnership with Local Authorities

Ireland is recording, year on year, increased numbers of people who are adopting an active, water-based lifestyle, practicing swimming, surfing, kayaking and paddle-boarding, and not just during the summer months. This trend is sure to keep up, meaning that existing all-weather changing facilities, secure storage and bathrooms at beaches and inland water spots may prove to be in short supply. 

In partnership with Local Authorities 

To meet the growing demand, Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin and Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, have announced a major new investment worth EUR 19 million developed in partnership with Local Authorities. The funding will be channelled towards building world-class facility centres at 22 locations nationwide, which rely on water-based activities to attract visitors. 

Each centre will provide hot showers, changing rooms and toilets, storage lockers, induction spaces, equipment wash down and orientation points. The centres will be fully wheelchair accessible and built using sustainability best practices such as solar heating panels to meet ‘Nearly Zero Energy Building Standards’. Phase 1 of the scheme should be completed in the summer of 2022 and a second phase is expected to begin in 2023 under Fáilte Ireland’s Platforms for Growth capital investment programme. 

During last week’s official launch of the EUR 19 million investment, Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin T.D. said, quoted by Fáilte Ireland’s website: “Ireland is world-class when it comes to providing water-based activities which are enjoyed by local communities and visitors along our stunning coastline, rivers and lakes. We’ve seen a significant upward trend in people enjoying outdoor water activities over the last year and we know the appeal of the outdoors will continue to grow post-COVID19 so we must ensure the Irish experience meets and exceeds visitor expectations.

The scale of the investment... will have a key role in Ireland’s recovery. It will support the local economy and the outdoor water-based activity sector by significantly improving the overall visitor experience, providing new business and job opportunities in local communities, particularly in rural areas and allowing for an extension of the traditional tourism season beyond the summer months.  It is also important to note that the facility centres will be sustainable, accessible and integrate into the natural environment of their locations.” 

Reviving local businesses 

Paul Kelly, CEO Fáilte Ireland commented: “Our temperate climate can offer year-round quality outdoor experiences. In order for Ireland to be recognised internationally as a best-in-class activity destination it is critical that we invest in building a sustainable activity infrastructure, compelling visitor experiences and developing the capacity of activity providers. This investment scheme will not only strengthen our appeal as a country with strong outdoor water-based activities and facilities, it will also create new opportunities for activity operators that will benefit local jobs and businesses while helping to spread visitors across the regions.” 

Moira Murrell, Chair of the CCMA Rural Development, Community, Tourism, Culture and Heritage (RCTCH) Committee stated: “Local Authorities are looking forward to commencing development of the Platforms for Growth Facility Centres, which will boost the appeal of many rural locations around Ireland for water sports and water-based activities.”

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