Four facilities in the South-East are set to benefit from new investment by Fáilte Ireland to develop state-of-the-art facilities for outdoor water-based activities.
€19 million will be made available in total to develop 22 locations nationwide, to meet what the tourism board call the 'significant increase' in people enjoying outdoor water-based activities such as kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and open water swimming.
Fáilte Ireland say that means all-weather changing facilities, secure storage and bathrooms at beaches and inland water spots will be in huge demand right throughout the year, and not just during the summer months.
Each centre will 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’.
Four locations in the South-East will be developed, including one inland water facility in Kilkenny City, these are:
- Kilkenny Water Sports Hub, County Hall, John St, Kilkenny
- Tramore Water-Sports Activity Facility Centre, Promenade, Tramore, Co. Waterford
- Ardmore Water-Sports Activity Facility Centre, Public Car Park, Cois Tra, Ardmore, Co Waterford
- Curracloe Water Sports Activity Centre, Whitegap, Curracloe, Co. Wexford
It's as the head of Ireland's Ancient East says Fáilte Ireland's focus is on this coming summer, with the region performing above others for tourism last year.
Brian O'Flynn says hotel occupancy in the South-East was as high as 80% once lockdown restrictions were lifted in the summer of 2020, with the region outperforming many others across the country.
And given that international travel is unlikely for the coming year - which accounts for 70% of the industry's revenue - he says the tourism board's eyes are on maximising this coming summer, with the hopes that 2022 will bring better days.
"Our focus - from a Fáilte Ireland perspective, in the very short term - is making sure that we're making the most of things for this season as things do open up. So we would see that the opportunities for the South-East in the summer being primarily domestic, but in the long term we need to see the return of that international market.
"The marketing of Ireland's Ancient East has brought the growth of tourism numbers into the region over the last number of years - notwithstanding that this year is a challenge for us given that essentially international travel is shut off.
"Last year the occupancy levels would have fluctuated between 65% and 80% for accommodation providers when things opened up, so that's tracking ahead of the national average for the same period."