It was weather for ducks and waders yesterday in Kerry — damp and most appropriate for the occasion of an official opening of a wetlands centre by Transport and Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar.
The €4.5m Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre and visitor park has bird hides, dipping ponds and a 20 metre viewing tower on the road to Blennerville.
Providing a bird’s eye view of the protected Tralee Bay nature reserve, the project is part of a network of international wetland areas.
Mute swans, grey herons, various ducks and gulls along with curlew have been spotted from the hides, in recent weeks.
The project was designed by WWT Consultants which assisted in the development of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in England and returns profits to wetlands research.
Mr Varadkar said the Tralee centre was a leading example of “soft adventure” tourism, one of the fastest growing sectors in international tourism. It offers wildlife boat rides, water sports and walking and cycling routes and is set to attract 70,000 extra visitors to Tralee yearly.
The development features a viewing tower with panoramic views of Tralee Bay and links to nesting sites on the nature reserve.
It also has a multilingual safari boat ride through habitats reflecting the diversity of the environment, a 1.5 hectare artificial lake for light water sports activity, along with 2.2km of walking and cycling routes linking up with the existing riverside walk.
The new centre employs three full-time and 10 part-time staff, including an ecologist in addition to five people in the lakeside café.
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