Putting sustainability at the heart of Donegal’s marine tourism businesses

12 Jun 2019

26 Donegal tourism businesses joined likeminded businesses from across Europe last week as they embarked upon an exciting new week-long training initiative helping put ‘sustainability’ at the heart of their business. The training initiative which was organised by Donegal County Council’s Tourism Unit is part of the EU funded WAOH! Route (Wildsea Atlantic Ocean Heritage Route) project.

During the training week the lead project partner, Travelecoology along with partners Submon and the World Cetacean Alliance delivered a classroom-based training day in the Co-Lab in Letterkenny focusing on eco-friendly marine and coastal tourism. Participants were given a very useful training toolkit that included manuals for sustainable guiding, kayak, dive and boat trip operators. A range of promotional materials were also given to course participants geared towards visitors, providing information on species and habitats in Donegal that can be made available on boats, sailing clubs, kayak centres and other business premises.

Three practical field trip training days also took place at various locations across Donegal. These included a boat trip on Lough Swilly, thanks to the Patrick and Matthew Doherty and Helena McCarron at Swilly Charters where the group had the opportunity to find out about the history of Lough Swilly and view Fort Dunree and Fanad Lighthouse and gain tips and techniques on guiding.

James Kenny at Seas the Bay facilitated a boat trip from Portnablagh where the group visited the many bird colonies at Horn Head and learned about responsible interaction with birds and other wildlife. Jim and Noreen Muldowney from Arranmore Sea Safari provided an excellent boat trip around Arranmore Island. Each day the students were given practical instruction on responsible guiding and sustainable marine tourism.

Joy Harron Marine Tourism Officer with Donegal County Council explained “we are working towards the continued development of tourism along the Wild Atlantic Way, but we must be also mindful of protecting the environment. Our involvement in the WAOH! Route project is an important way that Donegal County Council can take a proactive approach to marine and coastal tourism development, while conserving our wonderful natural coastline”.

She added “in November 2018 Donegal County Council signed a ‘Pledge to Sustainability’ along with partners across EU member states to demonstrate the commitment to the development of sustainable tourism. The goal of this training was to fulfil some of the actions outlined in the pledge and to encourage ocean literacy, knowledge exchange and best practice on sustainable eco-tourism and provide tips and advice on guiding to provide visitors with an unforgettable positive experience”.

At the end of the training week, participants were presented with certificates of completion and encouraged to get listed on and put into practice the knowledge gained during the training week. The WILDSEA Atlantic Ocean Heritage Route project (WAOH! Route) project is funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, through the Executive Agency for Small & Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) of the European Commission (EU).