VIDEOS: 2,500km Atlantic Way set to drive tourists wild

It promises to become one of the great road trips on the planet… while also providing a major boost for tourism along Ireland’s western seaboard.

The Wild Atlantic Way — a 2,500km coastal route stretching from the Inishowen peninsula (specifically the Donegal village of Muff) to Kinsale, Co Cork — is expected to become one of the country’s main tourist attractions.

The initiative has seen Fáilte Ireland invest €10m in the development of the long-distance touring route, including €3m on 3,850 road signs.

Launching the route in Dublin yesterday, junior tourism minister Michael Ring said it promised visitors the “journey of a lifetime”.

Mr Ring said the route would build on the legacy of The Gathering, which had shown what could be achieved when local communities and tourism interests worked together.

The minister said the Wild Atlantic Way was a wonderful way of discovering Ireland’s key attractions of “beauty, infrastructure and people”.

He welcomed the fact that the new initiative has already attracted a lot of interest from key tourism markets like Britain, the US, France and Germany.

“It is set be one of the most significant developments in modern Irish tourism and to be a significant engine of regeneration for rural Ireland,” said Mr Ring.

Fáilte Ireland chief executive Seán Quinn said the Wild Atlantic Way was not just “a road with new flashy signs”.

“It is much more than that,” said Mr Quinn who explained the initiative was a fresh approach to repositioning the west coast of Ireland to overseas visitors.

He acknowledged that the region had become very dependent on domestic tourists in recent years, even though such a market has remained fairly static.

Mr Quinn said the Wild Atlantic Way should be regarded as a tourist attraction that could be sampled in parts and would encourage repeat visits to different areas along its route.

The Wild Atlantic Way will promote 15 signature discovery points along the route including iconic landmarks such as: the Cliffs of Moher, in Co Clare; Skellig Michael, off the coast of Co Kerry; Mizen Head, Co Cork, the most southerly point in Ireland; and Sliabh Liag in Co Donegal, the highest sea cliffs.

The route will also feature 159 “discovery points” including 26 offshore islands.

But it also encompasses a total of some 500 visitor attractions, 580 festivals, 17 trails, and 50 looped walks, as well as 53 Blue Flag beaches, and 120 golf courses.

The route’s project director, Fiona Monaghan, said Fáilte Ireland hoped that it would become one of the world’s great tourism routes like the Great Ocean Road in Australia, and the Pacific Coast Highway in the US.

The Wild Atlantic Way will be fully sign-posted by early April, while an app for tourists travelling along the route will be available from June.

Michael Vaughan of the Vaughan Lodge Hotel in Lahinch, Co Clare, who recently completed his term as president of the Irish Hotels Federation, described the route as a “fantastic initiative”.

“It will make places along the west coast, where industry doesn’t go, economically viable.”

* Twitter @Fáilte_Ireland #wildatlanticway



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