Displaying items by tag: tourism
#MARINAS - The new shore block at Stranraer Marina is the latest project to benefit from the Sail West initiative across western Scotland, Northern Ireland and the northwest coast of Ireland.
As the Galloway Gazette reports, the new waterfront building comprises a permanent harbour office, coastguard base, showers and toilets, as well as a community education room.
“The ongoing development of the marina is key to branding Stranraer as a marine leisure destination," said local councillor Roberta Tuckfield.
"Plans to add more pontoons and another breakwater should bring in additional pleasure craft, increasing tourism numbers benefiting the whole town.”
The marina improvements have been made with the goals of boosting the number of marine leisure users in Stranraer, fitting in with Sail West and its cross-border MalinWaters marine tourism brand across the channel.
Sail West is an international scheme, headed by Donegal County Council and Larne Borough Council, which aims to encourage mariners to enjoy the North Channel coastlines of Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Other projects recently supported under the rubric of the Sail West initiative include the new coastal marina facility at Ballycastle Harbour in north Antrim and this summer's Clipper Festival in Derry.
The Galloway Gazette has more on the story HERE.
#SALMON THREAT - Just three out of every 100 wild salmon returned to Northern Ireland's rivers last year - prompting concerns that the species has declined past the point of no return, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.
Following a recent meeting of the Stormont culture, arts and leisure committee where the issue was discussed, South Belfast MLA Michael McGimpsey shared his belief "that the public do not appreciate just how precarious the situation is.
"It is estimated that 1,000 to 1,500 salmon return to Northern Ireland each year to spawn. Of these, half are wild salmon and the other half locally hatched salmon.”
McGimpsey said it is "beyond question that there has been a serious collapse in local wild salmon numbers and this is a situation which has implications, not just for local anglers but for our tourist industry."
Claiming that NI's wild salmon stocks are now "around dodo levels", he demanded "totally drastic action in and around salmon" to ensure the species' future.
Earlier this year, as previously reported on Afloat.ie, Northern Ireland's Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) has called for a voluntary ban on offshore salmon fishing.
The move to stop issuing licences for commercial salmon nets that may "contravene European law" off Antrim's north coast was welcomed by river angling campaigners NoSalmonNets, who have been using social media to promote their cause.
Meanwhile, DCAL insists that any court action from salmon netters who may challenge the ban "should not prove an obstacle" to extending the salmon stock preserving measures. Proposals will be put to the minister by the end of this month with a view to enacting legislation next year.
The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.
#BELFAST LOUGH - Belfast may no longer be building ships but it's certainly attracting them as 2012 marks a record year for luxury cruise ship numbers, according to BBC News.
Nearly 80,000 passengers and crew from 111 different countries have come through the city's port via 43 cruise liners since the start of this year's cruise season - and more than 50 are expected to sail into Belfast Lough in 2013.
"A lot of people are curious about Belfast and Northern Ireland," said Gerry Lennon of the Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau. "The political stability has given us that ability to go to the market-place and now say 'look what we have to offer'."
BBC News has much more on the story HERE.
The Irish Times reports that Minister Leo Varadkar has instructed the National Transport Authority (NTA) to examine possible routes for the project, which would involve development of the present towpath along the waterway from Mullingar to Maynooth.
The NTA is already funding preparatory work with a view to upgrading the canal path as a premium quality Greenway Route for cyclists and pedestrians in the Fingal area from Ashtown to Westmanstown - and will now look at the feasibility of extending this project through Leixlip to Maynooth.
“A national off-road cycle trail would be a first for Ireland and would be a great tourism asset," said the minister, who added that the scheme has "the potential to bring in at least €15 million per annum, much of that going straight into local businesses along the route.”
Writing in the Belfast Telegraph, he describes the "spectacularly beautiful scenery" and "medley of contrasts" he and his wife were treated to on a two-day guided sea kayaking tour of the region surrounding the City of the Tribes.
Being kayaking novices was no barrier to the couple as they paddled in a calm Kinvara Bay at sunset with a guide from Outdoors Ireland, joined by some playful seal pups, before drifting on to the preserved 16th-century Dunguaire Castle - one of the west's most popular tourism spots.
More urban sights were in store the next day as they joined a bigger group for a tour of the city's docks and the Claddagh, including the area's famous swans.
Outdoors Ireland has much more from the Telegraph story HERE.
Clare County Council has announced that Loop Head Lighthouse will remain open to members of the public each weekend during the month of September.
The extension of the opening period follows on from a successful summer season that has seen 15,870 people (12,034 adults, 3,836 children) visit the 19th century landmark building.
Clare County Council, along with Shannon Development, Loop Head Tourism and the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL), opened the 19th century lighthouse to the public for the second successive summer season on 18 May last.
According to Ger Dollard, Director of Services, Clare County Council: "Loop Head Lighthouse will close at 5.30 p.m. on 3rd September next. However, we are delighted to be able to open the lighthouse each weekend during September up to the final weekend, which coincides with the Che do Bheatha festival in Kilkee. Opening hours each Saturday and Sunday during September will remain the same as the summer opening hours."
"The lighthouse visitor numbers are extremely encouraging and we look forward to building on this during September," Mr. Dollard added.
Loop Head Lighthouse, located at the mouth of the Shannon Estuary, is steeped in history and rich in maritime heritage with its origins dating back to the 1670s. The existing tower style lighthouse was constructed in 1854 and was operated and maintained by a keeper who lived within the lighthouse compound.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny's grandfather was a keeper at the lighthouse. James John McGinley took up duty at the Lighthouse as Principal Keeper on 16th January 1933. He spent 1 year and 10 months at Loop Head. He was transferred from the station in October 1934. In January 1991, the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation, and today is in the care of an attendant and is also monitored by the CIL.
#maritimetourism – The Ireland South MEP Sean Kelly says the strategy, due to be published next year, should prioritise sustainable tourism, taking safety and environmental concerns into consideration. Promoting competitiveness, job creation and benefits for local communities are also pivotal in Mr Kelly's view.
"Ireland may not be able to guarantee year-round sunshine but we have some of the best conditions and resources to attract water sports enthusiasts and general holiday-makers in search of beautiful seascapes.
"Ireland needs to focus on boosting the image and profile of our coastal areas as high-quality destinations. Let's concentrate on the unique appeal ofIrelandand increase tourism. The new EU strategy must support Member States like Ireland in its efforts and that means financial support for SMEs involved in tourism and community grants or regionally diversification of the structural funds," Mr Kelly commented.
The European Commission Directorates-General for Maritime Affairs & Fisheries and for Enterprise & Industry have jointly launched a Public Consultation of individuals and stakeholders to better understand the key challenges and opportunities for the maritime and coastal tourism sectors.
Responses will feed into discussions during this year's European Tourism Day, to be held in Brussels, on September 27th and which will include a dedicated focus on coastal and maritime tourism.
#GIANT'S CAUSEWAY - The new Giant's Causeway visitors centre has opened to the public in Co Antrim in what's expected to be a big boost to tourism in the area.
Located close to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the £18.5 million (€23 million) facility was designed to complement the coastal region's dramatic vistas, with a grass roof that allows it to blend in with the surrounding landscape, and columns that echo the causeway's thousands of naturally formed hexagonal basalt pillars.
As The Irish Times reports, the centre illustrates the story of the stones and the legend of Finn McCool and his Scottish rival who are said to have created the causeway during a mythical battle.
Already and award-winner for innovative design and sustainable features, the National Trust centre - located nine miles from Portrush - looks to welcome up to 780,000 visitors a year.
The Daily Telegraph has images of the new visitors centre and more on the story HERE.
#VOLVO OCEAN RACE – With the last leg now in the final hours before the grand finale of the Volvo Ocean Race in Galway, Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton yesterday joined Tourism Ireland in the penultimate stopover port of Lorient at a reception for key French and international media contacts.
The event, which took place in the Volvo Ocean Race Village in Lorient, was an opportunity to showcase Galway and Ireland as a fantastic holiday destination – part of Tourism Ireland’s worldwide publicity drive during the race to reach a huge audience of potential holidaymakers.
The Volvo Ocean Race is the third largest sport event globally in 2012, attracting huge publicity around the world – with an estimated two billion people seeing it on TV, reading about it and tuning in to hear about it on the radio.
Since the race kicked off last November from Alicante in Spain, Tourism Ireland has been working in key markets where the race stopped to ensure Galway and Ireland were in the spotlight.
Billy Condon, Tourism Ireland’s manager for southern Europe, said: "The Volvo Ocean Race attracts huge publicity around the world and with Galway set to host the grand finale this week, the stopover here in Lorient was an ideal opportunity to showcase Galway and the west to the international media in attendance, drawing positive attention and publicity for the destination.
"The event is a great ‘hook’ for Tourism Ireland to reach a huge audience of potential French and other international holidaymakers.”
The 2009 stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race in Galway brought 40,500 international visitors to the city, as well as 269 journalists from around the world.
Sophie Linehan visited the Donegal village on the shores of Lough Swilly ahead of last weekend's second annual SeaFest, which introduced novices to the delights of various aquatic sports.
And it wasn't hard for her to find a whole host of activities for all levels of experience.
Many of these are available at the not-for-profit Rathmullan Sailing and Watersports School, set up by American transplant Rick Le Vert - who 10 years ago had never been sailing himself!
Linehan and her companion were shown the ropes in an afternoon sailing taster session on the lough, which she describes as "the perfect place to learn to sail".
Lessons in surfing and stand-up paddle boarding are also easily availed of - the latter being a great introduction to those who might be a bit scared of the surf.
The Sunday Independent has much more on the story HERE.