22 May 2012
Michael Ring T.D., Minister of State for Tourism & Sport launches the 'Wild Atlantic Way' with Fiona Monaghan, Head of Operations, Fáilte Ireland
Minister Ring Announces €1.8m for New West Coast Tourism Route
First phase of Wild Atlantic Way announced with funding secured for Connemara phase
The first phase of a major new tourism initiative for the west coast, including funding of €1.8 million for the project in Connemara, was announced today by Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring.
The Wild Atlantic Way is set to be Ireland’s first long-distance driving route for tourists, featuring a 1,400km driving route from Donegal to West Cork. It aims to rival similar projects in Australia and South Africa, with the aim of drawing more tourists to the west of Ireland by linking destinations and attractions under a single theme.
You can learn more about the Wild Atlantic Way from Fáilte Ireland’s video update click here
Speaking at the official launch in the Connemara Coast Hotel today, Minister Ring confirmed that the first pilot phase of the project will be in Connemara.
“The Wild Atlantic Way will open up the whole of the west coast to visitors. It will be a way to entice visitors off the beaten track and help them to discover new areas of the west coast,” Minister Ring said.
“I am delighted to announce that €1.8 million has been assigned to the first phase pilot project here in Connemara. The area was chosen because of its current popularity as a destination for self-drive visitors, particularly from France and Germany, and because it lies midway along the route.
“More and more visitors to Ireland are taking charge of their own holidays. They want to set their own route, and choose their own itinerary. The Wild Atlantic Way will offer them this choice thanks to the wide range of road loops, maps, online applications and brochures.”
Over the past six months, Fáilte Ireland has been working closely with Galway County Council, along with a dedicated Steering Group comprising Údarás na Gaeltachta, the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) and key members of the tourism industry. This work has helped to prepare an appropriate Interpretation and Infrastructure Plan for Connemara to become the pilot project for the Wild Atlantic Way.
The Steering Group has delivered a comprehensive plan for Connemara which seeks to improve the quality of the driving experience for visitors, including the provision of gateway signage, orientation points and a network of 19 Discovery Points. €1.8m has been allocated by Fáilte Ireland for the project which Galway County Council will now implement over the next year.
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. 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.
“We, in Fáilte Ireland, are working with all 12 local authorities along the western seaboard to help turn this initiative into a reality and their involvement is crucial to the success of the project.”
It is intended that the Wild Atlantic Way will rival many of the well-known long distance driving routes around the world, such as the Great Ocean Road in Australia and the Garden Route in South Africa. Most importantly, it will provide a brand and product of sufficient scale and singularity to gain that all important visibility in our overseas markets.
Discussing plans for the next stage of the project, Mr Mathews continued –
“Now that we know what is involved in planning a high quality tourism driving route, and while the Connemara plan is being implemented, Fáilte Ireland will commence work on the development of a single brand for the Wild Atlantic Way and get to work with all 12 local authorities along the West Coast to identify the most appropriate route for the Wild Atlantic Way.”
For further information please contact:
Louise Tolerton - 086 6086578/01 8847135
Catherine Whelan – 087 6449572/01 8847181
Note for Editor
Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development authority, was established in 2003 to guide and promote tourism as a leading indigenous component of the Irish economy.
The tourism and hospitality industry employs an estimated 170,000 people and generates almost €5 billion in revenue a year.
Further information on the Wild Atlantic Way Initiative
• The initiative aims to increase visitor numbers, dwell time, spend and satisfaction within the destinations along the Atlantic Seaboard by making it significantly easier for visitors to move between destinations. A single brand will enable tourism businesses along the route to work together to create a cohesive visitor experience along the route.
• It is envisaged that the route will comprise of a spine incorporating a number of loops to encourage longer dwell time within each destination.
• It will be accompanied by a range of marketing tools, including a new web presence together with a range of maps, apps and brochures.
• Physical interventions on the ground will include improvements to viewing points and lay-bys which will incorporate improved interpretation for the visitor (Discovery Points).
• In addition to providing a driving route, the Wild Atlantic Way is as much about getting people out of their cars and into the landscape and engaging with local people. Where possible, the Discovery Points link up with trailheads for cycling and walking routes.