02/07/18

New Interpretative Masterplan launched to enhance tourist experience at Ireland’s National Parks and Reserves

Multi-million Euro investment to help national parks and reserves become world-class visitor experiences

Ministers Madigan and Griffin and Fáilte Ireland launch Experiencing the Wild Heart of Ireland

Monday 2nd July 2018 – Irish and international visitors can look forward to an enhanced experience at Ireland’s National Parks and Reserves, following the launch of a major new plan today.

Experiencing the Wild Heart of Ireland, A Tourism Interpretative Masterplan for Ireland’s National Parks and Coole Garryland Nature Reserve, was published jointly by Josepha Madigan TD, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and Brendan Griffin TD, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport today at Coole Park, Gort, County Galway.

The interpretative masterplan is a product of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Fáilte Ireland’s strategic partnership. It sets out a framework that will guide the phased development of enhanced visitor centre experiences and improved visitor facilities at Ireland’s National Parks and Reserves, based on research into international best practice. The work will be funded jointly by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Fáilte Ireland through a multi-million Euro investment package over the coming years.

The features of the plan include:

  • Capturing the special and unique stories of each National Park and Nature Reserve and bringing them to life for visitors
  • Leverage the collective value of the National Parks, particularly those along the Wild Atlantic Way, where five of the six parks are located, and increasing their appeal to visitors.
  • Using international best practice to improve the visitor experience in the National Parks’ Visitor Centres.

Speaking at the launch, Minister Madigan said “Ireland’s National Parks and Reserves are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful places in the world. They are truly the Wild Heart of Ireland and each site contains unique habitats, flora and fauna, as well as dramatically different landscapes, offering unique and different visitor experiences”.

“This framework will enable us to not only showcase the beautiful landscape and improve the experience we give visitors and crucially will ensure the long term protection of the Parks. By stressing our conservation and education responsibilities and providing better visitor experience, we can balance conservation and biodiversity with increasing visitor numbers.”

Minister Griffin said “This joint approach by Fáilte Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife Service is a perfect example of the cross-sectoral collaboration we need to see more of if we are to realise the full potential many of our great Irish assets contain. The great thing about this plan is that it strikes the right balance between maintaining our beautiful parks and reserves while also opening them up to visitors in a more engaging and compelling fashion.”

The parks and reserves suit both recreational and eco-tourism and facilitate job creation and economic growth, particularly in rural areas, by allowing local businesses to capitalise on enhanced tourism infrastructure. Continued investment in walking/hiking infrastructure and interpretation and education facilities at Natural Heritage sites provide new incentives for people to visit an area and experience unique aspects of Ireland’s culture and heritage. These investments preserve our natural environment, improve health, wellbeing and support the local and national economy.”

Orla Carroll, Director of Strategic Development with Fáilte Ireland emphasised “This shared interpretative masterplan is truly transformative and will unleash the full potential of our national parks and reserves to significantly boost Irish tourism. As a country, we have done a first class job in maintaining these natural assets but we don’t want them to be the best kept secrets in the world. The joint approach unveiled today sets out the steps we can take to raise our parks and reserves up a level to become fantastic world class visitor experiences as good as the Cairngorms in Scotland or the Bavarian Forest National Park in Germany.”

Experiencing the Wild Heart of Ireland, A Tourism Interpretative Masterplan for Ireland’s National Parks and Coole – Garryland Nature Reserve can be downloaded here.

ENDS

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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