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Tourism award shouldn’t make us complacent

Wednesday, 16th August, 2017 6:08pm

Emma Connolly & Niamh Áine Ryan

Travel bible Lonely Planet has named the Wild Atlantic Way as one of the world’s ultimate road trips.

However, a Fine Gael minister has said that we’re not to get too carried away with ourselves!

The country’s first long-distance touring route, stretching along the Atlantic coast from Donegal to Kinsale, has been included in its highly regarded new publication ‘Epic Drives of the World’.

The Causeway Coastal Route – which goes between Belfast and Londonderry – has also been singled out for inclusion.

The overall aim of the Wild Atlantic Way was to develop a route that will achieve greater visibility for the west coast of Ireland in overseas tourist markets.

Several tourist providers in the area are citing it as the reason for their successful season this year.

Welcoming the news, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “The inclusion of the Wild Atlantic Way in Lonely Planet’s new ‘Epic Drives of the World’ is wonderful news and will surely help to inspire travellers everywhere to put Ireland on their holiday wish-list.

“It is another well-deserved accolade for Ireland and our spectacular scenery, which provides Tourism Ireland with a great hook to continue to promote the Wild Atlantic Way and the island of Ireland around the world as a ‘must visit’ destination.”

However, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, reacting to the news, said that although the Lonely Planet accolade highlights success of Wild Atlantic Way, we can’t rest on our laurels.

He said that the inclusion of the Wild Atlantic Way on the Lonely Planet’s list of the world’s greatest drives illustrates the “great success of this tourism initiative”.

However he said: “I would caution against any complacency creeping in in relation to the roll-out of this scheme.

“There is still a huge amount of work to be done to bring this project to fruition and local authorities, local communities, the Government and Fáilte Ireland can’t lose sight of this. It’s important to remember that the rollout of this vast project was always scheduled to take place over ten years and we are only five years into it.”

Minister Ring also said that the Wild Atlantic Way has been a tremendous tourism development for rural Ireland and brought tourists into areas that hadn’t seen visitors for many years.

The Mayo minister was also of the opinion that it has also enhanced people’s experience of Ireland and with it, our reputation as a must-visit destination for travellers.

He added: “But there is still a huge amount of work to be done to make sure that the Wild Atlantic Way builds on and sustains its reputation for excellence. For example, there are not enough laybys in place where tourists can exit the road safely in order to enjoy a beauty spot.

“As the Lonely Planet accolade illustrates, we are involved in a highly competitive, global tourism market.

“If we don’t realise the potential of this project or allow our standards to drop, we may be overlooked when the list of the world’s greatest drives is updated in five years’ time,” the Fine Gael minister concluded.

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