Surfing tourism on crest of a wave after monster swell


ADVENTURE HOLIDAYS:FÁILTE IRELAND is hopeful that this week’s giant wave will enhance Ireland’s growing reputation as a world-class surfing destination.

Prowlers, the 15m (50ft) wave which was surfed off the west coast this week, has provided images which have captured the imagination of surfers all over the world.

It is likely to give a huge boost to the profile of the European Surfing Championships which take place in Bundoran next September and October. The nine-day event will be the biggest surfing competition ever held in Ireland.

Fáilte Ireland’s manager of marine and countryside pursuits Ethna Murphy said they already had plans to market Ireland as a surfing destination next year in advance of the championships, but the surfers who found Prowlers had given them priceless publicity.

“Surfing is one of our good news stories. It is a sector that is growing and the people involved in it have an entrepreneurial spirit. We are working with them to get involved with traditional BBs and self-catering places to help market Ireland as a prime cold water surfing destination,” says Murphy.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny met Richard Fitzgerald, one of the six surfers involved in surfing Prowlers, while canvassing in Bundoran this week.

Killian O’Kelly, who owns the TurfnSurf Lodge school in the town, said: “I told Enda Kenny that what Richard Fitzgerald did was worth €2 million of tourism promotion for Ireland. Those photographs will be in every surfing magazine in the world that matters and that is how we attract visitors to Ireland. We now get Australian and New Zealand visitors who did not even know we had surfing in Ireland.”

Ireland’s reputation as one of the premier cold water surfing nations in the world was enhanced by Prowlers. The surfers involved have spent the last four years monitoring the type of conditions that create such a wave and were ready when it hit the west coast on Tuesday. Its location is a closely guarded secret.

It follows on from the giant wave Aileens which broke at the Cliffs of Moher in 2008 and was the subject of the documentary Waveriders.

A conference on adventure tourism in Killarney last week was told that the market attracts almost a million overseas visitors to Ireland and is worth approximately €1.1 billion.

Adventure tourism is on the rise worldwide with a recent UK study estimating that it will grow by 24 per cent worldwide by 2013.