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The Lough Derg Blueway, Source: Sports Ireland on Twitter

World’s first blueways: Ireland leading the way in sustainable tourism

World’s first blueways: Ireland leading the way in sustainable tourism

The blueways combine water basins like lakes, rivers and shorelines with infrastructure suited for outdoor tourism

Yesterday, Ireland’s first blueways in Meath, Clare, Galway and Tipperary got their official accreditation from the Irish tourism board Fáilte Ireland. Blueways are a brand-new outdoor concept that is currently unique to Ireland. They combine the country’s numerous lakes, canals, rivers, and coasts with outdoor recreation.

The blueways offer a wonderful environment for walking, cycling, swimming, kayaking, etc., quite similar to the idea of the Irish greenways, a concept making use of abandoned road and rail infrastructure, turning it into cycling infrastructure overflowing with nature.

Growing public demand for outdoor infrastructure

According to a statement by Fáilte Ireland, most domestic tourists in Ireland engage in some form of outdoor activities. In fact, their research says that 73% of them did nature-related activities like walking and hiking, swimming, kayaking and canoeing on their most recent overnight trip. The blueways is a response to this particular rise in demand and it aims to tap into the potential of rural Ireland.

Furthermore, the project has a chance to showcase more traditional and smaller communities across the country to visitors, as well as create links between the urban and rural populations.

The accreditation procedure has been developed by Fáilte Ireland in collaboration with Sport Ireland, Waterways Ireland, Sport Northern Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland. It is supposed to serve as a badge of quality for both the experience and the technical and safety infrastructure that these places can deliver.

The three blueways that received their accreditation yesterday were the River Boyne, passing through the town of Trim, the River Suir in Tipperary and Lough Derg, spanning Tipperary, Clare and Galway. Their sustainable tourism offers have been developed by Waterways Ireland, in collaboration with local authorities to make the best use of local landmarks and resources.  

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