Failte Ireland is striving to develop rural tourism
I wish to commend John Mulligan for the great passion he brought to his recent opinion piece on rural tourism, but I believe that, unfortunately, the resulting article presented a grave misrepresentation of what is actually happening out there, and it dealt a disservice to the many individuals and groups who are doing sterling work on the ground to boost tourism in the countryside.
Failte Ireland is committed to an equitable development of tourism throughout the country and through our investments in festivals, significant tourism attractions, improved infrastructure, new technology and targeted marketing, we are helping to grow visitor numbers (and therefore revenue and jobs) into many parts of this country where there are no other viable sources of industry.
A classic example of our commitment to rural Ireland is the newly announced Wild Atlantic Way -- a scenic and themed driving route that will boost tourism and local economies throughout parishes and townlands all along its route from the top of Donegal all the way down to west Cork.
Mr Mulligan spoke very much about walking and cycling tourism in particular. We agree with him that these are important areas to develop -- so much so that we are actively engaged in doing just that.
Our latest research shows that the overseas activity sector was worth €830m to Ireland in 2010 and that those interested in activity pursuits spend, on average, 40pc more during their trip than other visitors.
It should be noted that 90pc of this activity is 'soft adventure' and covers a broad range of activities, including walking, cycling, fishing, water sports, archaeology and bird- watching.
In relation to walking and cycling, there has been significant investment in infrastructure and business supports over the years, with a view to providing visitors with what they want and expect.