Lough Derg will get its own Tourism co-ordinator as part of tourism improvement plans.
A major four-year plan outlining the future economic development and marketing of the Lough Derg area as a tourism destination has been launched by Minister Alan Kelly, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.
Fáilte Ireland’s Plan for Lough Derg, entitled ‘A Roadmap for Experience Development and Destination Marketing 2014-2017’, includes the provision of marina and tourism related developments along the shoreline of Lough Derg as well as the appointment for the first time of a designated Tourism Co-ordinator for Lough Derg.
Speaking at the Plan launch in Ballina/Killaloe last evening (Thursday), Minister of State Alan Kelly said the primary purpose of the plan is to maintain and improve tourism visitor services, recreational facilities and environmental amenities around the lake and River Shannon with a view to creating a ‘Lough Derg’ experience.
He continued: “We simply have to unlock Ireland’s hidden secret, which is Lough Derg. Doing this requires a vision that all parties can buy into as well as a will to get things done and this approach is the way forward."
"This comprehensive strategy will develop Lough Derg as a key destination for superb water based activities combined with a range of very high quality walking, cycling, heritage, culture and food experiences that will entice the domestic and international visitors to stay longer. This will be achieved through joint co-operation of all tourism stakeholders in the development and marketing of their area under the Lakelands – Lough Derg identity.”
“Lough Derg is one of Ireland’s most valued tourism assets but it is also a vulnerable landscape, which is why it is imperative that it is the subject of an extensive development strategy. Fáilte Ireland and the Lough Derg Marketing Strategy Group (LDMSG), in conjunction with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the local community, have delivered a strategy that will ensure that an appropriate balance is established, with development in the most appropriate locations and the protection of vulnerable areas,” added Minister of State Kelly.
The key tourism attractions being targeted in the new blueprint include the development of a waterpark at the University of Limerick Activities Centre (Clare), Lough Derg Canoe/Kayak trail, a masterplan for an eco-park in Portumna (Galway) and a Discovery Point and Trailhead at the Portroe lookout (Tipperary). Meanwhile, a designated Tourism Co-ordinator for Lough Derg is expected to be appointed during the coming week. The position will be co funded by the TRAP INTERREG IVC European Union project and the Lough Derg Marketing Strategy Group (LDMSG). A key element of this position will be to engage with and support the existing tourism trade and businesses surrounding Lough Derg and ensure the effective implementation of the Plan.
According to Paul Keeley of Fáilte Ireland: “The collaborative approach adopted in the development and planned roll-out of this Plan will be key to its success. Previous experience from other parts of Ireland show that such an approach does deliver results and Fáilte Ireland looks forward to working with members of the LDMSG and the Tourism Coordinator to improve existing facilities and amenities and provide additional new facilities. Furthermore, Fáilte Ireland will play a central role in the development of a unique and marketable Lough Derg brand that will ultimately lead to an increase in visitors to the region.”
Mr. Joe MacGrath, LDMSG Chairperson, noted that work undertaken by the Group in recent years to expand the tourism offering in Lough Derg will assist the delivery of the new Plan.
He explained: “The Group has for a number of years delivered its own Action Plan to develop Lough Derg as a key destination for superb water-based activities combined with a range of very high quality walking, cycling, heritage and culture and food experiences aimed at enticing the domestic and international visitor to stay longer. This objective is further strengthened through the launch of this new Plan which ensures the joint co-operation of all tourism stakeholders in the development and marketing of their area under the Lakelands – Destination Lough Derg identity.”
Anthony Coleman, Director of the Mid West Regional Authority (MWRA) added that in-depth studies have been carried out over the last 10 years looking at the best way to progress tourism in the Lough Derg area.
He continued: “The results of these studies have included careful assessment of the environmental capabilities of the lake and its shoreline. These studies remain relevant and have fed into the recommendations in this plan. Furthermore, the MWRA’s experience in accessing European funding and involvement in the EU-funded TRAP programme will ensure that Lough Derg and the surrounding region will benefit from examples of best practice in tourism development from around Europe. We look forward to playing a lead role in the delivery of this new Plan which we believe will help position Lough Derg as one of Ireland’s best equipped and most popular destinations for domestic and international visitors alike.”
The Lough Derg Marketing Strategy Group comprises the MWRA, Waterways Ireland, Inland Fisheries Ireland, North Tipperary County Council, Galway County Council, Clare County Council, North Tipperary Leader Partnership, business and trade representatives and TRAP INTERREG IVC
For more on the Fáilte Ireland’s Plan for Lough Derg visit www.failteireland.ie.
Published: 28th February 2014