Responsibility for marine matters is spread across several different Government Departments and agencies. Accordingly, a whole-of-Government approach is taken to managing Ireland’s vast and diverse marine resources in line with “Harnessing our Ocean Wealth – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland”. An Inter-Departmental Marine Coordination Group, which comprises senior representatives of Departments with an involvement in maritime or marine affairs including the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, is responsible for the supervision, implementation and cross-Government delivery of this Integrated Marine Plan. This Group meets on a regular basis, convened by the Department of the Taoiseach and chaired by my colleague Mr Michael Creed, TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
With specific regard to marine and maritime tourism, Ireland’s coastal areas, marine resources and activities are significant components in our overall tourism offering. National tourism policy recognises and endorses cross-organisational collaboration on identifying and developing promising tourism segments. It also highlights the importance of maintaining and enhancing the quality of the place that visitors experience during their stay, through the protection of natural and cultural assets, while adapting to changing visitor requirements, within a context of sustainable development.
In terms of relevant tourism development activity around the country, Action 7 of our Tourism Action Plan 2019-2021 tasks Fáilte Ireland with continuing to develop and enhance tourism experiences within the framework of Project Ireland 2040 and by building on existing partnerships. The intention is to optimise key assets for the benefit of tourism and economic development through increasing regional spread, season extension and promoting sustainable growth management.
In the area of coastal and marine tourism, Fáilte Ireland’s “Wild Atlantic Way” tourism experience brand is a strong example of this approach, as it adopts both a national and regional approach to tourism development and involves multiple stakeholders – including the tourism agencies, local authorities, the tourism industry and communities. Working collaboratively, they can advance common tourism, environmental and other coastal-/marine-specific goals. The Wild Atlantic Way is designed to highlight and leverage Ireland’s unique geographical positioning along the Atlantic Ocean. By allowing tourists engage with and understand how the sea shaped our coastal communities, our lifestyle and our traditions, its key goal is to entice even more visitors to Ireland’s shores and, most importantly, to give them a reason to stay longer and spend more.