Oceans as Playgrounds

The island of Ireland is surrounded by approximately 9000 kilometres of diverse coastline with a wide range of scenic and coastal attributes. Rough cliffs in the west coast carved by the Atlantic Ocean and the more sedate, long beaches of the east coast provide a multitude of varied recreational activities.  

The significant amount of revenue that marine tourism contributes to the economy has prompted strong support for measures to further improve related infrastructure, investment and development. Schemes such as SEA CHANGE (a Marine Research and Innovation Strategy for Ireland) have been implemented to ensure that the Irish marine and leisure tourism industry is operating at its optimum level and that all opportunities for its success are taken. Initiatives include the development of a good transport infrastructure around popular coastal destinations and sufficient supply of accommodation. By meeting tourists’ needs and promoting marine tourism effectively, a positive socio-economic impact can also be observed in rural and remote areas such as increased employment opportunities.  

In terms of the environmental impact of marine tourism, Ireland has been relatively unaffected to date. However issues which have arisen in other countries such as littering, overcrowding, deterioration of water quality and resistance to proposed developments highlight the need for astute planning and awareness-raising to ensure that marine tourism in Ireland does not lead to environmental problems in the future. Fáilte Ireland has set up an environmental unit to ensure that good environmental practices are employed within the tourism sector. The environmental unit’s role involves setting out policy and an environmental action plan which advocates a high quality environment for Irish tourism.

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