Sunday 16 June 2019

New €2m activity centre will be magnet for tourists

25 people will be employed at a new international activity centre in Tagoat, the brainchild of two scout troop leaders. David Looby reports

An aerial view of the site off the N25 Wexford to Rosslare road
An aerial view of the site off the N25 Wexford to Rosslare road
A map showing the key features of the new centre which will open in May

An activity being built in Tagoat will employ 25 people and provide a hub for tourists entering the country at Rosslare Europort to stay in and explore the county.

The International Outdoor Activity Centre is due to open in May and will provide a one-of-a-kind experience in Europe, offering a variety of options for visitors, from camping and 'glamping', to kayaking and activities, while also providing accommodation for thousands of scouts every year.

Owners Adrian and Carmel Tennant of Tennant Consulting, who are leaders of the 13th Wexford Scout Group, have been involved in the scouts for over 60 years between them.

Wexford town man Adrian Tennant said the centre - which will feature an amphitheatre, a cafe, a fire pit and a lake, along with numerous attractions - will cost between €1.5m and €2m to complete.

Mr Tennant said: 'It has been a dream we've had for a decade and in 2013 we decided to turn that aspiration and dream into a business.'

They decided to build a high quality scouting campsite but the challenge was how to make it pay for itself. 'We did market research and we've been dragging scouts and our three children, who are also scouts, to different camp sites across Europe and the UK. We want to bring a resort feeling for people when they arrive on site.'

They bought 18 acres in Tagoat and in May the centre will open, nine months after work began by builders J&J Sinnott.

One strand of the business will involve attracting scouts and youth groups. In May 250 scouts will descend on the centre for its first major weekend, the County Shield.

A residential glamping village will also be available for campers who like a bit more creature comforts. The luxury tents will be carpeted and provide guests with great comfort.

A camper van and camping area complete with 100 pitch areas will attract people from across Europe who arrive at Rosslare Europort. It will cost from €25 to €30 to pitch a tent for a family, couple, or individuals.

'Camper van sites are a big issue in the area as the closest one to the ferry is in County Wicklow. People are driving through the county to Wicklow and other counties. We want people to use us a a hub and spend money in County Wexford. We will be linking in with other local activity providers to expose people to what we have on offer in Wexford. There is a lot out there but it's not joined up.'

The amphitheatre will provide an outdoor performance area for up to 800 people. 'We can offer this venue in the off season for concerts or for groups to use. The centre will provide accommodation for groups attending festivals in Wexford.'

The lake will be used for kayaking and raft building and other water sports and there will be a mobile camp fire. The activity centre will have high ropes, paint ball, bows and arrows, an Airsoft rifle range, an obstacle course, a battle zone area and other exercise challenge courses.

'Games will be designed for corporate group and youth groups and families. People who visit us this year will come back and there will be new attractions next time they visit.'

Adrian and Carmel met while working with the HSE at Waterford Regional Hospital. They climbed the ranks with the HSE and Adrian became director of human resources and employee relations and set up Tennant Consulting. Carmel joined him in the business which they grew into a great success story.

'We do a lot of work on investigations for the Government.'

The couple have a masterplan for the first five years of their business.

They are confident of success based on vehilce data from Rosslare Europort.

'There is nowhere that has all the elements that we have. Huge numbers of people come but unless the weather is beautiful, the beach is the only option. Now they can book in activities with us for 12 months of the year. We plan to link in with Ireland's Ancient East.'

Adrian said there will be 25 full-time equivalent jobs created once the centre opens.

'We'll have a core staff of between eight and 12 and we'll have the centre open all year round. We'll be starting to hire in the middle of March.'

The centre is being financed by the Tennants and through a business loan.

'We have kept the spend within Wexford by hiring Wexford companies like the builders J&J Sinnott and Wexford architects Stephen Carr. We want to thank the people of Tagoat who have been really welcoming and the local community who could have been afraid when they heard a company was building it and running it. We are a family run business and they have been really good to us.'

New Ross Standard