Two Co Clare facilities are set to benefit from a new Fáilte Ireland fund aimed at outdoor water-based activities.
The €19 million investment in a total of 22 projects nationwide includes the Ballycuggaran Sports Activity Facility in Ogonnelloe and Kilkee Waterworld Activity Facilities.
The significant increase in people enjoying outdoor water-based activities such as kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and open water swimming is expected to continue to grow year on year, and not just during the summer months. This means all-weather changing facilities, secure storage and bathrooms at beaches and inland water spots will be in huge demand.
To meet this demand Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin and Fáilte Ireland are today announcing a major new investment worth €19million. The funding will be used to build world-class facility centres at 22 locations across the country where water-based activities are a key visitor attraction. (see full list in notes to editor).
In Clare, two locations will be developed under this scheme, in partnership with Clare County Council. Each centre will provide hot shower, changing and toilet facilities, secure storage, induction spaces, equipment washdown and orientation points.
They will be fully wheelchair accessible and built using sustainability best practices such as solar heating panels to meet ‘Nearly Zero Energy Building Standards’*.
This investment scheme, developed in partnership between Fáilte Ireland and Local Authorities, will support the local economy and the outdoor activity sector by significantly enhancing the overall visitor experience, providing new business opportunities in local communities and allowing for the extension of the tourism season beyond the traditional summer months.
A second phase is expected to commence in 2023 under Fáilte Ireland’s Platforms for Growth capital investment programme.
Paul Kelly, CEO Fáilte Ireland said: “Our temperate climate can offer year-round quality outdoor experiences. In order for Ireland to be recognised internationally as a best-in-class activity destination it is critical that we invest in building a sustainable activity infrastructure, compelling visitor experiences and developing the capacity of activity providers.
This investment scheme will not only strengthen our appeal as a country with strong outdoor water-based activities and facilities, it will also create new opportunities for activity operators that will benefit local jobs and businesses while helping to spread visitors across the regions. Today’s announcement outlines Phase 1 of this scheme, which has an expected completion date of Summer 2022 and we will look at a potential second phase in 2023.”
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council said: “I am delighted to welcome the news from the Minister on funding for the delivery of two all-weather shower and changing facilities at Ballycuggeran on Lough Derg and Kilkee Waterworld. This is a great opportunity to support outdoor tourism providers who will play a key role in the Covid-19 tourism recovery.
Investment in tourism infrastructure brings many welcome benefits. Clare County Council is one of the key partners behind the Lough Derg Visitor Experience Development Plan, which will create a vibrant tourism destination in magnificent Lough Derg. With the County Clare Tourism Strategy 2030 being launched shortly, we see enormous potential in the future of Clare tourism.”
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Tourism and Aviation Cathal Crowe has also welcomed the news.
“We’ve all seen the rise in popularity of water-based activities in recent years and for a county like Clare, this opens up a sizeable tourist market, once Covid allows for travel once again.
“This investment will significantly improve the overall visitor experience in both of the Clare locations chosen and, I hope, will play a part in providing new business and job opportunities in the communities, particularly in rural areas and allow for an extension of the traditional tourism season beyond the summer months.
“Our magnificent Atlantic coastline is widely known around Ireland and further afield for its beauty and potential for surfing, sailing, swimming and so on but it’s hugely encouraging to see massive efforts in East Clare to lure visitors to Lough Derg and the Shannon,” Deputy Crowe added.