A new tourism project, Donegal’s Atlantic Coastal Trail, was launched by Cathaoirleach Cllr. Terence Slowey in the LYIT School of Tourism in Killybegs on Tuesday.
Speaking at the launch, Cathaoirleach Slowey said, “This is an innovative project focused on the marine leisure and seafood experiences which will advance rural coastal and island economic development in Donegal.”
The project has been created by Donegal County Council and the LYIT School of Tourism, Killybegs, in an effort to promote Donegal as a marine leisure attraction which boasts top quality services and recreational activities for visitors.
In addition to the project, each pub and restaurant can avail of a unique training programme.
The programme has been developed in order to assist local business owners and employees in the local tourism sector.
Meadbh Seoige, Development Executive of Udaras na Gaeltachta, highlighted the importance of this programme in educating the people of Donegal so that they can contribute to the tourism experience.
She said, “This whole programme will teach the people of this county to be proud of the story of Donegal. Everybody should know more about tourism in Donegal so that should a tourist stop you in the street you can tell them this story and the offering we have here.”
Dr Sean Duffy, Head of School of Tourism, LYIT, explained how the programme will operate.
“We’ve deliberately designed it so that you don’t need to be working in a restaurant or at a tourism attraction to do it.
“The idea is that we’ll take students through the basics of marine tourism and the seafood industry. We’ll be working with guest lectures, industry professionals and we’ll be taking students to various sites”, he said.
The programme will run over the course of 13 weeks with 1 class per week, from September to December. As a result of funding from the Commission for Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA), fees do not apply for the programme and those who attend the course will do so free of charge.
Speaking at the event, Chief Executive of Donegal County Council, Seamus Neely said, “We’re trying to develop the actual county. We’re working on where we fall short in visitor numbers. One statistic is that as little as twelve per cent of tourists who visit the Wild Atlantic Way actually travel north of Galway City.
“On a positive note, we can look at how busy we’ve become as a result of the Wild Atlantic Way, even at 12% of visitors. We can grow that by 15 per cent or 18 per cent, even 100 per cent is an achievable figure” he added.
The project provides businesses in the marine tourism and food sector with an opportunity to look at new ways to add value to their existing product offering. It aims to further promote the opportunities that exist for this sector along the coast of Donegal on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Also in attendance were Niamh Kennedy, Chairperson of Donegal Municipal District; Councillor John Campbell, Councillor David Alcorn and MC for the event was Barney McLaughlin of Donegal County Council.