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Displaying items by tag: tourism

#Titanic - Titanic Belfast is second only to the Guinness Storehouse in terms of visitor numbers in its first year, as The Irish Times reports.

NI Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who joined First Minister Peter Robinson at an event to mark the first anniversary of the Belfast Lough-side visitor centre's opening, said the total of 807,340 visitors exceeded expectations and is “an outstanding European tourism success story”.

Operators of the Titanic Visitor Experience at Titanic Belfast said people from 128 different countries had come to see the exhibits, including Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and noted Titanic enthusiast James Cameron.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Titanic

#CoastalNotes - Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring today (23 April) unveiled the final route for the Wild Atlantic Way, a new coastal tourism route running from Donegal to Cork.

The minister joined Fáilte Ireland to present the final route to 300 top overseas tour operators attending Meitheal 2013, Ireland’s largest tourism trade fair.

The Wild Atlantic Way will be Ireland’s first long-distance driving route, stretching from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal to Kinsale in Co Cork, and offering future visitors an opportunity to discover the west coast.

The 2,500km final route was unveiled following a comprehensive public consultation process and includes 156 strategically placed discovery points for tourists along the way. 

While the route unveiled today comprises the main spine of the Wild Atlantic Way, a series of looped itineraries off the spine are also planned to further develop the experience for visitors.

Speaking today, Minister Ring said: “The Wild Atlantic Way is a very exciting project and I’m certain it will be a major tourism attraction. But to make it happen we all need to get on board.

"There has been a great response so far and I’m encouraging tourism operators, local authorities, business people and residents to stay involved to get this over the finishing line."

Overseas tour operators were given an advance ‘sneak-peek’ of the route last night at a Fáilte Ireland welcome event in the Convention Centre Dublin when they were treated to the premiere of the video trailer above to show them just what their clients can expect along the route from next year on.

Paddy Mathews, manager of destination development with Fáilte Ireland, believes the project will be a great addition to what Ireland has to offer visitors.

“Developing a route like this is an important part of ensuring Ireland is able to provide visitors with an unforgettable experience," he said. "It will open up a huge number of towns and attractions to them and showcase the scenery and unique culture of the West Coast of Ireland providing easy access to a range of experiences along the route.

“Now that the route has been finalised we will be focusing our efforts on turning all this preparatory work into a reality – an international driving route to rival the best in the world.”

Fáilte Ireland has been working with all the local authorities along the West Coast as well as the leader companies, Údaras na Gaeltachta and the Western Development Commission.

Full details of the Wild Atlantic Way are available on the Fáilte Ireland website HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Lighthouse - German journalists were recently taken on a tour of Loop Head Lighthouse to give our European neighbours a taste of Ireland's maritime heritage.

The group - including writers from the likes of respected news magazine Der Spiegel - visited the 19th-century landmark in Co Clare which opened to visitors at weekends earlier this month, and will be open seven days a week from the June Bank Holiday over the summer season for the third year running.

Before then, it will welcome visitors during the National Famine Commemoration programme from 3-12 May.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the lighthouse at the mouth of the Shannon Estuary has proven a major tourism draw, with its 11-week trial opening in 2011 estimated to be worth €400,000 to the local economy.

Published in Lighthouses

#Angling - The new Strategic Review of Angling initiative for Northern Ireland aims to encourage more people to get out fishing on Ulster's coastline and waterways.

The Belfast Telegraph reports on the scheme, developed by Sport NI and the NI Tourist Board, with the Loughs Agency, government and angling groups, as a two-pronged approach: promoting the sport at home and pushing Northern Ireland as a top destination for angling tourism.

"This is an exciting opportunity for us to help foster the interest in angling and enable the province to enhance its reputation for the quality of its fishing and the warmth of its welcome to visitors," said Geoff Hughes, director of consultants G&L Hughes Ltd who have been appointed to advise on how angling in NI might be best developed.

Meetings will be held next month where stakeholders can evaluate proposals and put forward their views, while an online survey is already soliciting the views of interested clubs and organisations.

The Belfast Telegraph has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

#InlandWaterways - The Belfast Telegraph reports on the annual clean-up of the Glendarragh River in Co Fermanagh by local anglers determined to preserve the quality and natural beauty of their inland waterways resource.

The Kesh and District Angling Club's yearly Big Spring Clean anti-litter drives sees anglers and other volunteers boat along the watercourse to remove as much rubbish and discarded debris as they can find.

As the only waterway in the area where cruisers - many carrying tourists - can travel upstream from Lough Erne, the ugly sight of built-up litter reflects badly on the Fermanagh lakelands, according to club chair Stephen Hey.

"Over the years the water quality has been getting better, but from an aesthetic point of view it's terribly sad to come up the river on a boat and see a rubbish tip." he said, adding that suspected fly-tipping is the cause of much of the waste.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways

#InlandWaterways - Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) marked the completion of an angling development project under the Interreg IVA Cross Border Harnessing Natural Resources Programme in Co Leitrim today (Friday 22 March).

The IFI project incorporated the development of angling facilities at two locations - Acres Lake in Drumshanbo and Herons Shore on Lough Allen - with the aim of harnessing the nature-based tourism potential of the region and fostering cross-border economic development.

IFI upgraded existing car parks and added additional car parking spaces, angler access points, information signage and floating fishing stands.

Speaking at the ribbon cutting ceremony, IFI board chair Brendan O’Mahony said: "The essential investment in programmes such as this one ensures the long-term sustainability of angling amenities for Ireland. It increases visitor numbers which in turn provides job opportunities and revenue for local communities.

"It also raises the standard of the angling experience for all levels of angler and ensures that the resource is accessible for all to enjoy”.

O’Mahony also commended the commitment of the drivers of such projects and their vision.

Recognising that the phase completed by IFI is only one part of the overall programme, IFI director Amanda Mooney commented that the fisheries body was "delighted to be given the opportunity to be part of the overall Harnessing Natural Resources Programme" and wished success to partner agencies on their own projects.

Published in Inland Waterways

#IrishHarbours - The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) is asking members of the public and all interested parties for their views on plans to merge Bantry Bay Harbour with the Port of Cork Company.

The department believes that the future of Bantry Harbour would best be secured through a merger, and is seeking views on the proposals by 5 April.

Government policy is to merge harbours with significant commercial traffic with a port company, and to transfer smaller harbours to a local authority. To date 11 harbours have transferred to local authority control. Bantry Bay Harbour is now the only regional harbour operating under the Harbours Act of 1946.

A Review of Regional Ports and Harbours in 1999 recommended that Bantry Bay Harbour Authority should merge with the Port of Cork company, on the grounds of good governance.

The core business of Bantry Bay Harbour is the oil storage and transhipment terminal on Whiddy Island. Aquaculture, fishing and tourism are also prevalent in the harbour and a small number of cruise liners visit the harbour each year.

Amalgamation with the Port of Cork would provide access to port expertise, marketing, strategic development planning and the skills required for the regulation of navigation, ship and port security requirements, pilotage, safety, emergency response, and pollution.

The Port of Cork currently provides this professional expertise through the provision of harbourmaster services, on a contractual basis, to bring in large oil tankers and cruise liners into the bay. This is an absolute requirement to operate business in Whiddy to help mitigate the risks of maritime accidents and environmental damage.

Should the transfer take place to the Port of Cork, there is an opportunity for the port to provide local representation to Bantry Bay and some investment back into the harbour. The opportunity also exists for the Port of Cork and the local authority to co-operate with regard to the future development of the harbour.

Published in Irish Harbours

#Diving - The Irish Underwater Council (CFT) reports the "huge success" of the 22nd annual Dive Ireland expo in Athlone at the weekend.

The two-day event at the Hodson Bay Hotel welcomed "speakers from near and far as well as photography workshops and a fully loaded international trade fair" - not to mention the CFT National Dive Conference and AGM.

Ahead of the expo, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan commented on the role of SCUBA clubs and diving centres in Ireland's national tourism infrastructure in promoting this country's dive sites.

In the foreword to the recently published Warships, U-boats and Liners, he also wrote of the Government's commitment to developing its archive of wrecks in Irish waters.

“With the support of responsible dive centres and local dive clubs ... these wrecks can be explored now and into the distant future by visitors from home and abroad.”

According to the CFT, local authorities are also starting to recognise the importance of developing aquatic activities to encourage tourism.

One example is Mayo County Council's Blue Ways list of swimming and snorkelling sites along the county's coast, which complements its Green Ways walking trails.

The council also highlighted the importance of heritage among Ireland's diving community, and their role in discoveries such as the Viking-era swords retrieved from the River Shannon near Banagher last autumn, as the Offaly Independent reports.

Published in Diving

#Business - A West Cork whale watching tour operator has been announced as the third winner of the Eircom Digital Boost initiative for 2013, as Business & Leadership reports.

Union Hall-based Whale Watch West Cork now has the opportunity to redesign its website, and also wins a strategy day with digital and marketing experts from the Eircom Expert Panel to provide consultation specific to their business, plus a place on the SureSkills Diploma in Digital Marketing and a telecoms package for one year, all to the value of €10,000. 

Established by conservationist Nic Slocum, the small business is one of most popular operators in the region in an industry that has become a major tourism magnet since the Government declared our coastal waters as a whale and dolphin sanctuary in the early 1990s.

Operating the company for a decade, Slocum says his business "is currently 75% reliant on the internet so improving our online and social media presence is hugely important."

He added: "By having an up-to-the-minute digital strategy and a stronger online presence, we'll be in a much improved position to broaden our customer base and we are very excited about getting on with it now and implementing our new and improved global online strategy."

Gary Disley, marketing director with Eircom Business and a member of the Digital Boost Expert Panel, said that the Whale Watch West Cork team "have a huge passion for whale and dolphin conservation and know what whale watchers want. Winning Eircom’s Digital Boost will practically equip Nic and his crew to maximise their potential and help them build the business."

Digital Boost is Eircom’s initiative to help SME owners increase their digital presence and maximise their online potential. The scheme offers practical guidance and tips to boost online enterprise, and is to open to all small and medium business owners, with or without an online presence.

Published in News Update

#Fishfarm - Galway Bay FM reports that a major protest is set to take place in Galway this weekend against the proposed deep sea fish farm off the Aran Islands.

Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages is organising the demonstration from Eyre Square on Saturday 2 March at noon in opposition to the 500-hectare organic salmon farm proposed by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

The facility, to be located off Inis Oírr in Galway Bay, would be the largest of its kind in Europe and would double the State's production rate of organic salmon, cited by BIM as Ireland's leading organic food export.

However, the scheme has been facing strong opposition from fisheries groups and local anglers citing the potential environmental impact on wild salmon numbers and the threat to tourism in the area.

Inland Fisheries Ireland is among those bodies that have expressed concern over the fish farm plans, citing research on the effect of sea lice emanating from aquaculture facilities on the mortality rate of wild Atlantic salmon.

BIM responded to news of the protest by stating such action may be unnecessary due to the appeal mechanism available in the State's decision process.

Published in Galway Harbour
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