Plans for Wild Atlantic Way driving route unveiled as another Ring road

Wed, May 23, 2012, 01:00

WHY SPEND thousands of hours, or euro – or both – on branding a major new tourism project when one has a Government Minister like Michael Ring?

So it was on the Connemara border yesterday, when the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport pulled the virtual rug from under Fáilte Ireland officials.

Booked to unveil plans for a 1,400km driving route between Donegal and west Cork, billed as the Wild Atlantic Way, Mr Ring had come up with his own title.

Henceforth, it would be known as the “Ring road”, he said, to gales of laughter at the announcement in Furbo, Co Galway. The long-distance route is modelled on similar projects abroad, such as the Great Ocean Road in Australia and South Africa’s Garden Route, and aims to reverse a downward trend in tourists visiting the west coast. Funding of €1.8 million has been provided for the first “pilot stage” of the project, which will be developed by Fáílte Ireland with Galway County Council.

An “interpretation and infrastructure plan” for Connemara will involve “gateway signage”, “orientation points” and a network of 19 “discovery points” with the aim to increase “dwell time” for visitors in the west.

When fully developed, the entire route between north and south of the Atlantic seaboard will have involved 12 local authorities and three city councils.