The programme which has the potential to see over €40m invested in water based tourism and leisure initiatives was launched in Galway today by Frank Fahey TD, Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources.
The Minister also officially launched two associated reports for the Marine institute.
Speaking at the launch of the programme in the Harbour Hotel, Galway, this afternoon, Fahey outlined the Government's long-term vision for a "necklace of marinas around the Irish Coast". He said "as one of Ireland's major indigenous industries, tourism provides a significant opportunity for Irish people to develop sustainable businesses based on our greatest natural asset, our marine environment". Adding that "this programme has the potential to provide a comprehensive network of top class facilities, create hundreds of jobs and deliver economic benefits to virtually every coastal county in Ireland".
Noting that the BMW region is likely to benefit from at least €23.7m of investment, Fahey said "the west coast from Clare to Donegal has been identified by the Marine Institute as a prime location for development". The South & East region which already has a number of top quality marinas will also see total investment of more than €15m. The overall programme provides for €25.4 in State investment, in addition to other public and private sector investments to generate investment of at least €39m over the next four years.
Citing the recent decision by the Royal Ocean Racing Club to bring the Admiral's Cup to Ireland in 2003 as a prime example of the type of major marine tourism event, which can be attracted once the necessary top class facilities, such as the new marina in Dun Laoghaire are available. Minister Fahey said "investment in both regions will bring ongoing benefits for both tourists and local marine leisure participants".
Outlining the approach which will be adopted in considering applications, he said "major investment will focus on developing high quality, integrated water-based tourism and leisure 'clusters' at a targeted number of sites which are properly integrated with the mainstream tourism product, ideally with the accommodation services and other tourist activities in the area.
The Minister added that he "expected to receive significant applications from marina project promoters in locations such as Galway, Westport, Ballina, and a number from Donegal, whilst many more locations would be suitable for smaller scale developments".
He also pointed out that a county such as Galway which has has 197 identifiable sea access points could sustain as many as seven or eight projects. Elsewhere, North Mayo and Donegal were identified as top priorities for development.
Minister Fahey also noted that these new developments would complement marinas in Kenmare and Caherciveen which will be open this summer and others planned for Roundstone and Rosses Point, which have been approved for €5.7m in state aid.