Ireland looks set to splash the funds and invest €19m in “state-of-the-art” facilities to enhance outdoor water-based activities across the country.
The funding boost comes following a surge in the popularity of activities such as kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and open water swimming, particularly since the beginning of the pandemic.
The money will see facilities built and enhanced at 22 different locations across the country, where water sports or other water activities are seen as the standout visitor attraction.
Out of the 22 beachside locations chosen countrywide, 10 are located in Munster, with facilities in Cork, Kerry, Clare, Tipperary and Waterford all benefitting.
Popular Munster bathing spots to receive funding include:
- Garrylucas Beach, Ballinspittle, Co Cork;
- Claycastle Sports Activity Facility, Claycastle, Youghal, Co Cork;
- Tramore Water-Sports Activity Facility Centre , Promenade, Tramore, Co Waterford;
- Ardmore Water-Sports Activity Facility Centre, Public Car Park, Cois Tra, Ardmore, Co Waterford
- Ballybunion Beach Shared Facilities Centre , Men's (South) Beach, Ballybunion;
- Fenit Beach Shared Facility Centre, Fenit Beach, Fenit, Co Kerry;
- Magherabeg Shared Facilities Centre , Magherabeg Lower, Castlegregory, Co Kerry;
- Dromineer Sports Activity Facility, Dromineer, Nenagh, Co Tipperary
- Ballycuggeran Sports Activity Facility , Ogonnelloe, Killaloe, Co Clare;
- Kilkee Waterworld Activity Facilities, Waterworld, East End, Kilkee, Co. Clare
The rise in beach and water activities, which Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Minister Catherine Martin say is growing by the year, is not restricted to the summer months. This has prompted a demand for all-weather changing facilities, secure storage and bathrooms at both beaches and other, inland water spots.
The funding will be used for each centre to provide hot showers, 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’.
It is hoped the facilities will help support the local economy by providing new business opportunities in communities and extending the tourism season beyond the summer months.
Ms Martin said Ireland is world-class when it comes to water-based activities, noting the abundance of coastline, rivers and lakes.
“We’ve seen a significant upward trend in people enjoying outdoor water activities over the last year and we know the appeal of the outdoors will continue to grow post-Covid-19 so we must ensure the Irish experience meets and exceeds visitor expectations,” she said.
“The scale of the investment I am announcing today with Fáilte Ireland will have a key role in Ireland’s recovery,” she added.
A second phase is expected to commence in 2023 under Fáilte Ireland’s Platforms for Growth capital investment programme.
Paul Kelly, Fáilte Ireland chief executive, said Ireland’s 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,” he added.