14 Sep 2015
Donegal County Council and Donegal Tourism Ltd recently hosted a meeting of delegates from the EASME EU funded WILDSEA Europe project in County Donegal. The meeting took place in the Clanree Hotel; Letterkenny to coincide with the Donegal County Council and Donegal Tourism Ltd led initiative that was the second annual ‘Connecting the Wild Atlantic Way Tourism Conference’. Partners from Europe came to Donegal from 7th to 9th October 2015 and were delighted with the opportunity to meet and network with tourism providers from all over County Donegal, who also attended the conference.
Chief Executive of Donegal County Council Mr. Seamus Neely welcomed the project delegation on the morning of the meeting and said “that County Donegal offers an extensive coastline, which is unspoiled, rugged and rich in marine life and has a vibrant bio-diversity. There are opportunities for the development of niche touring routes such as that of the WILDSEA Europe project and for businesses to diversify into tourism, to create employment and to create a sustainable economy that reduces seasonality. The goals of our WILDSEA Europe project partners certainly coincide with what we are working to achieve here at Donegal County Council”.
The WILDSEA Europe project was launched in July 2015 and is led by lead partners Travelecoology from Spain. Donegal County Council was delighted to host this recent meeting of the WILDSEA Europe delegation, which provided an excellent opportunity to showcase County Donegal to partners from key tourism and local authorities of Spain, Italy, Croatia and Northern Ireland.
Mr. Emmett Johnston from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Irish Basking Shark Study Group attended the meeting and provided an excellent informative presentation on Malin Head’s rich and diverse marine life. Mr. Johnston also joined the WILDSEA Europe delegation as tour guide on their tour of the coastline up to Malin Head along the Wild Atlantic Way. The knowledge and experience of the National Parks and Wildlife Services and Irish Basking Study Group is a very valuable asset to this project.
Mr. Garry Martin from Donegal County Council was pleased to attend the recent meeting in Letterkenny and is a key member of the project Steering Committee, alongside Joy Harron of Donegal Tourism Ltd and Adrienne Kelly of Donegal County Council. Mr. Martin said that “this project is one important part of a wider marine tourism strategy that combines the objectives of a number of European, National and Local projects across the entire county, that when pieced together offer us an excellent opportunity to develop a unique sustainable marine tourism model in County Donegal to compliment the Wild Atlantic Way”.
The project seeks to develop a touring route based on the wonderful variety of marine biodiversity and wildlife along our European coastlines, while at the same time looking at methods of conservation of our marine biodiversity and protection for future generations. The project includes elements of research and conservation in addition to the marketing and promotion of an EU wide marine wildlife and biodiversity trail called WILDSEA Europe. With regards to the role of Donegal County Council and Donegal Tourism Ltd, they will have a number of key responsibilities in the project including communication, marketing, video production, which will be led by marine tourism marketing specialist Joy Harron of Donegal Tourism Ltd, with administration support from Adrienne Kelly of Donegal County Council.
Malin Head has been chosen as a key pilot area for the WILDSEA Europe project due to its rich wildlife and biodiversity, including the basking shark and dolphin population. Future plans include the expansion of the route to include our entire Donegal coastline.