Ireland leads the way with world’s first accredited Blueways
- World first official accreditation for Blueways in Meath, Clare, Galway and Tipperary
- Blueways to drive activity tourism, with over 73% of domestic tourists participating in walking, cycling, kayaking or swimming
- Blueways to encourage locals and visitors to get active in nature and keep discovering rural Ireland
- Cross-border partnership between Fáilte Ireland, Waterways Ireland, Sport Ireland, Sport Northern Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland.
The first three Blueways in the world to achieve accreditation officially opened this week at the Boyne Blueway, Suir Blueway Tipperary and Lough Derg Blueway.
Blueways are a brand-new outdoor recreation offering currently unique to Ireland. They encourage the use of lakes, canals, rivers and costal environments for walking, cycling, swimming, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding while engaging with nature and heritage.
Fáilte Ireland research shows that 73%* of domestic tourists engaged in outdoor activities, ranging from walking and hiking, to swimming, kayaking and canoeing, on their most recent overnight trip. The official accreditation of Blueways responds to this growing public demand for quality outdoor infrastructure close to water and nature. It will ensure Blueways will be a magnet for visitors and local residents seeking high-quality outdoor experiences.
The Blueway accreditation has been developed by Fáilte Ireland, Sport Ireland, Waterways Ireland, Sport Northern Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland. An official accreditation will ensure all Blueways will be developed to a consistent high standard from a technical and safety perspective and will deliver best in class sustainable visitor experiences.
The three Blueways accredited at the Boyne, Trim Co. Meath; Suir Blueway Tipperary; and Lough Derg Blueway Tipperary, Clare and Galway, have been developed by Waterways Ireland and Local Authorities in line with the accreditation criteria and are now considered best-in-class destinations for water-based and water-side activities.
Commenting on the launch, Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin said ‘Under the Programme for Government, we committed to investing in and promoting Blueways and recreational trails for the benefit of local communities and tourists alike. The newly accredited Blueways will open up Meath, Tipperary, Clare and Galway to water-based and water-side activities. The Blueways partnership is an important cross-border initiative that will drive Blueway development and help position the island of Ireland as a world-class activities tourism destination for visitors.”
Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht Jack Chambers TD said “Blueways provide valuable opportunities for rural and urban communities to be active in the outdoors. These opportunities lie not only in the recreational opportunities that they offer but also in their potential to stimulate local businesses and regenerate local areas. Over the past two years, we have turned to the outdoors more than ever before and it is important that we maintain this momentum. I want to thank the partnership who worked collaboratively to drive this initiative on an all island basis and for their commitment to the development of Blueway sites across the island of Ireland.”
“We have long recognised the importance of promoting our waterways for activity tourism and it is wonderful that we now have the first accredited Blueways at the Boyne, and at Lough Derg and Suir in Tipperary,” stated Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly. “Opening up the outdoors is a key strategic priority for Fáilte Ireland, and these accredited Blueways are another outstanding addition to our portfolio of outdoor activity infrastructure. They will tap into domestic and international activity and leisure tourism markets, reaping economic benefits for Meath, Clare, Galway and Tipperary, and other locations around the country as more Blueways receive accreditation.
“The importance of our outdoor recreation facilities cannot be underestimated. The last two years has shown us how important the outdoors is for not only our physical health but also our mental wellbeing and creating opportunities for people to partake in outdoor sport and physical activity is a key priority for Sport Ireland” added Sport Ireland CEO Una May. “Irish people are embracing the outdoors, utilising walking and cycling trails and it’s great to see the first three accredited Blueways launched in Ireland which I’m sure will be the first of many.”
John McDonagh CEO of Waterways Ireland said “Waterways Ireland welcomes the accreditation and launch of the Boyne, Suir and Lough Derg Blueways. Blueways positively change the relationship between local communities and their waterscape by creating active engagement and participation, as well as business opportunities which local communities and tourists can all enjoy. The continued investment and collaboration between Waterways Ireland and our stakeholders across Government, local authorities, recreational bodies, local communities and others is delivering Blueways across Ireland and Northern Ireland that are benefiting all.”
George Lucas, Chair Sport NI added: “During the COVID-19 pandemic many people rediscovered their local areas, reconnecting with nature and the outdoors and the wide range of outdoor recreation activities available on their doorsteps, from outdoor swimming and kayaking to walking and cycling. At Sport NI we believe in the power of sport to change lives and we are committed to encouraging more people to take part in sport and physical activity. We are delighted to link up with our partners in sport and tourism, both north and south of the border, for this Blueway initiative, ensuring the provision of safe and sustainable access to water and land-based trails.”
John West, Board Member of Tourism NI commented: “It is clear that there is a need for more outdoor-focused products across the Island of Ireland, and Tourism NI will continue to focus on maximising the potential of our key outdoor assets which will contribute towards achieving our goal of creating sustainable, world-class experiences that meet the current needs and demands of the market. We are delighted to be a part of the Blueways Partnership, and look forward to having accredited Blueways in Northern Ireland which will help to reinforce our visitor offer as an outstanding activities tourism destination.”