€500k Investment Seeks to Boost Tourism Potential in Ireland’s National Parks
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny today announced Fáilte Ireland’s new strategic partnership with the National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) with a view to growing tourism revenues in the rural areas where the parks are located and increasing Ireland’s appeal as a holiday destination. Fáilte Ireland will be investing capital funding of €500,000 to kick-start the initiative. This initial funding will focus on the five National Parks and five Nature Reserves along the Wild Atlantic Way as well as Wicklow National Park with a view to undertaking feasibility, scoping and design of tourism projects at these sites.
Announcing the partnership in Ballycroy National Park, Co. Mayo, Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD said:
“This new strategic partnership between Fáilte Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife Service is an excellent example of state agencies proactively working together to advance a shared objective to the benefit of local communities. Tourism offers real opportunities for rural areas and this investment of €500,000 comes just days after the launch of ‘Realising our Rural Potential – the Action Plan for Rural Development’.
“The Action Plan comprises five key pillars of which, the third pillar seeks to maximise our Rural Tourism and Recreation Potential. Five of our six National Parks run along the Wild Atlantic Way and Wicklow National Park forms part of Ireland’s Ancient East. The funding will undoubtedly allow for the design of excellent tourism projects building on the strengths of each location, as well as further promoting our National Parks and Nature Reserves for visitors and tourists.”
This team up with NPWS is the latest in a series of partnerships that Fáilte Ireland has developed with key State agencies and bodies which own and manage attractions and sites that are considered to be of vital importance to tourism. As part of this strategy, Fáilte Ireland is giving capital funding to projects of tourism value as well as providing its considerable expertise in tourism development and marketing to partner agencies.
Welcoming the investment, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Patrick O’Donovan TD said –
“This strategic partnership is a key action of the Fáilte Ireland Strategy for Investment 2016-2022. Maintaining a clear focus on the interests of the international visitor and on strengthening the appeal of Ireland in international markets is the ultimate aim of the investment strategy.”
Today’s strategic partnership brings together the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Fáilte Ireland to achieve the shared goal of further developing quality visitor experiences at Ireland’s National Parks and Nature Reserves. Commenting on the collaboration, Minister for State for Regional Economic Development Michael Ring said –
“Ireland’s six National Parks are there for all of the people of this country to enjoy. They are also a wonderful draw for tourists and demonstrate the beautiful variety of Ireland’s natural heritage. Our national parks form an integral part of our national tourism product, and can play a key role in regional development.”
Minister Ring continued – “While the last few years have been difficult in relation to Exchequer funding, I am delighted that we are now in a position to invest further in our natural heritage. This funding reflects the commitment in my Department’s Action Plan for Rural Development to enhance supports for rural Ireland. It is my intention to continue to invest in our National Parks and Nature Reserves to ensure they remain a vital tourist resource which underpin the economy, both nationally and regionally. This partnership proves the Government’s on-going commitment to the preservation of our natural heritage for future generations of citizens and visitors alike. It is a culmination of constructive engagements between my Department and Fáilte Ireland and addresses a long-standing strategy to foster our natural heritage.”
Nature based tourism is a large and growing component of international tourism. Ireland’s National Parks with their unique and stunning landscapes, natural heritage and large spaces have the potential to become ‘must visit’ locations on visitor itineraries. Speaking today, Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Strategic Development, Orla Carroll emphasised:
“We know from our own research that more and more visitors want to experience the Irish landscape up-close and personal. Our national parks can do just that – by unlocking this potential we can give our visitors a real opportunity to get back to nature and get in touch with Ireland.”
This announcement is a one of a number of investment projects Fáilte Ireland is working on and in December last year, the tourism agency unveiled a €550k partnership with Coillte focusing on the state owned forestry sites. In addition, 2016 saw the launch of a new Fáilte Ireland Grants Scheme for Large Tourism Projects with a pool of €65m to invest in and develop new, or boost existing, tourism experiences and attractions across Ireland. The first round of applications is currently being assessed.