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€19M Funding Announced for ‘State-of-the-Art’ Facilities for Water-Based Activities

15th April 2021
Tourism Minister Catherine Martin TD (left) pictured at Killiney Beach with Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly and Cllr Una Power, Cathaoirleach of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council Tourism Minister Catherine Martin TD (left) pictured at Killiney Beach with Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly and Cllr Una Power, Cathaoirleach of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council Credit: Fáilte Ireland

Funding of €19 million will be used to build “world-class” facilities at 22 locations across the country where water-based activities are a key visitor attraction.

Tourism Minister Catherine Martin and Fáilte Ireland today (Thursday 15 April) launched the investment to meet what they have identified as a growing demand for activities such as kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and open-water swimming.

It’s envisaged that centres will provide hot showers, changing and toilet facilities, secure storage, induction spaces, equipment wash-down and orientation points.

They will be fully wheelchair accessible and built using sustainability best practices such as solar heating panels to meet the Nearly Zero Energy Building Standard.

Developed in partnership between Fáilte Ireland and Local Authorities, the investment scheme also aims to support the local economy and the outdoor activity sector “by significantly enhancing the overall visitor experience, providing new business opportunities in local communities and allowing for the extension of the tourism season beyond the traditional summer months”.

This first phase of the scheme has a completion deadline of summer 2022. It’s expected to be followed by a second phase in 2023 under Fáilte Ireland’s Platforms for Growth capital investment programme.

Speaking at the launch, Minister Martin said: “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-COVID-19 so we must ensure the Irish experience meets and exceeds visitor expectations.

“The scale of the investment I am announcing today with Fáilte Ireland 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.”

The 22 locations earmarked for new facilities under this scheme are as follows:

  • Dublin: Docklands Water Sports, North Wall Quay; DLRCC Killiney Beach Facilities Project, Killiney.
  • Wexford: Curracloe Water Sports Activity Centre.
  • Waterford: Tramore Water-Sports Activity Facility Centre; Ardmore Water-Sports Activity Facility Centre.
  • Kilkenny: Kilkenny Water Sports Hub, County Hall, John Street.
  • Tipperary: Dromineer Sports Activity Facility, Nenagh.
  • Cork: Claycastle Sports Activity Facility, Youghal; GarryLucas Beach, Ballinspittle.
  • Kerry: Ballybunion Beach Shared Facilities Centre, Men’s (South) Beach, Ballybunion; Fenit Beach Shared Facility Centre, Fenit Beach; Magherabeg Shared Facilities Centre, Castlegregory.
  • Clare: Ballycuggeran Sports Activity Facility, Killaloe; Kilkee Waterworld Activity Facilities, Waterworld, Kilkee.
  • Galway: Corrib Sports & Adventure, Terryland.
  • Mayo: Keel Facility Centre for Water Sports Activities, Achill Island; Carrowmore Beach, Louisburg.
  • Sligo: Enniscrone Beach; Rosses Point.
  • Leitrim: Acres Lake Activity Facility, Drumshambo.
  • Donegal: Tullan Strand Centre for Water Sports Activities, Bundoran; Downings Water Sports Activity Facility, Na Dunaibh.
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Marine Leisure & Aquatic Tourism

Domestic coastal tourism expenditure was approximately €698 million in 2018, while domestic marine tourism generated €381 million.

Activities such as walking/ running along the coast, swimming and beach visitations are among the most popular activities for domestic visitors on both day and overnight trips.

While participation rates in pursuits such as bird and wildlife watching in coastal areas and visiting nature reserves, etc. in coastal areas were lower, these activities did see the highest frequency of both day and overnight trips for those active in these activities. 

According to the National University of Galway (NUIG) research the average expenditure per coastal day trip in 2018 was calculated at €95. The equivalent for coastal overnight trips was €310. The estimated water-based activity expenditure per person per trip across the sample was €56 rising to €73 for the subsample that actually undertake waterbased activities on their coastal visits. The results also indicate that domestic tourists undertake the majority of their marine activities on the West and South coasts of Ireland and that there are notable differences in participation rates across age groupings, social classes and by family makeup.

A domestic tourist is defined in this report as a person who spends at least one night away from home on their trip. Total expenditure by domestic tourists in coastal areas was estimated to be €698 million in 2018, which represents 35% of the total expenditure by domestic tourists (using the broader Fáilte Ireland measure for domestic tourists that includes business trips equating to 10.92 million in total trips and €2,006 million in total revenue).

The marine-related activity expenditure, or what might truly be referred to as domestic marine tourism, is estimated to generate revenue of €381 million with €172 million being spent on water-based activities. Marine tourism makes up an estimated 19% of total domestic tourism expenditure.

Marine Leisure Tourism - FAQ

Coastal tourism refers to land-based and water-based tourism activities taking place on the coast for which the proximity to the sea is a condition including also their respective services. Coastal and Marine Tourism & Leisure are seen as one of the Blue Economy (BE) sectors that can help unlock the potential of multi-use of space at sea by engaging with Blue Growth (BG) sectors such as Aquaculture and Marine Renewable Energy among others.

Sports: sailing, surfing, diving and fishing Heritage: Unesco coastal villages, archaeological sites of interest, biospheres and historical points of interest Arts: coastal museums, art galleries, museums, wrecks Education: Eco-tourism, field courses, NGOs. Food: Seafood restaurants, Seafood festivals

NUI Galway carried out a survey of domestic residents in Ireland in 2019 as part of a survey entitled "Valuing and understanding the dynamics of Ireland's Ocean Economy". The purpose of the household survey was to profile the domestic market for single-day trips (leisure) and overnight trips (tourism) for coastal and marine-related activities in Ireland. The results of the survey are also used to estimate what proportion of an Irish resident's total domestic tourism expenditure is in coastal areas (coastal tourism) and what proportion is spent on undertaking marine-related activities (marine tourism).

The NUI results highlight the important contribution that Ireland's marine and coastal resources make to the leisure experiences of the general population and the importance of the domestic tourism market to local coastal economies. The analysis indicates that domestic coastal tourism expenditure was approximately €698 million in 2018, while domestic marine tourism generated €381 million. Activities such as walking/ running along the coast, swimming and beach visitations are among the most popular activities for domestic visitors on both day and overnight trips. While participation rates in pursuits such as bird and wildlife watching in coastal areas and visiting nature reserves, etc. in coastal areas were lower, these activities did see the highest frequency of both day and overnight trips for those active in these activities. Satisfaction with the available marine-related leisure facilities was also found to be very high across all activities.

©Afloat 2020

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