Fáilte Ireland CEO, Shaun Quinn, today emphasised that the new west coast driving route, the Wild Atlantic Way, has the potential to be a significant game-changer for marine and coastal tourism but called for greater team working from all stakeholders as he addressed delegates to the Malin Waters Region Marine and Tourism Conference in Donegal.
Speaking at the event Mr Quinn said,
“If we are to realise the full potential of coastal tourism, we need to identify and develop big, ambitious projects of scale. We believe we have found just that in the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’, designed to highlight Ireland’s unique geographical positioning along the Atlantic Ocean.
“We intend to deliver a driving route in June 2014 that is of sufficient scale and singularity to cut through and stand out internationally so that in time, the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ will achieve a recognition and prominence similar to a small group of other internationally known driving routes, such as the Great Ocean Road in Australia or the Garden Route in South Africa”.
Speaking about the future of marine tourism for the region and nationally, Mr Quinn stressed that it is estimated that marine tourism accounts for 10% of total tourism revenue, some €1/2 billion. He pointed to the possibility that, with sound and sensitive development, there is no reason why Ireland should not aspire to grow marine tourism revenue by 2020 and ultimately treble its revenue earnings to €1.5 billion.
Mr Quinn added that there was great potential in the sector but challenges to be addressed also. He specifically pointed to:
- the need for improved access to our shoreline, be it through existing or new infrastructure, or even through new ways of working so that public resources can be shared and opened up to private enterprise where appropriate;
- the need for a holistic view of the sector is taken to provide a complete visitor experience and not just an activity or a product - activities, attractions, bars, restaurants, hotels etc, all form part of this experience and need to work together to deliver this;
- the need for streamlined planning and consent procedures (similar to terrestrial planning) to support and direct any potential infrastructure investment.
Mr Quinn felt that if some of these issues can be addressed through initiatives such as the Government’s ‘Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth- An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland’ and initiatives such as the Wild Atlantic Way then the Marine sector in tourism would be closer to realising their full potential.
Published: 18th September 2013