Angling tourism must take green path


Most in the tourism business pander to the idea of making sure their hotel, angling lodge or interpretative centre does not tarnish the environment. Their perception of environmental damage is, however, often based on what they see. Discoloured water from an algal bloom, the scarred landscape caused by sheep overgrazing and raw sewage floating in the sea all ring alarm bells. But these are late symptoms of damage, not - as some perceive - early indicators of trouble.

Sustainable tourism development should be lived. It's about a pro-active approach, as is applied to the Kerry Blackwater fishery, says Patrick Buck of the South Western Regional Fisheries Board. It is not reacting to obvious negative impact when it's probably too late. Determining "carrying-capacity" and operating below some "danger figure" in terms of a limit on the number of tourists, hotels, holiday homes or anglers on a river is no guarantee of environmental soundness. "It would be more prudent to say from the `turning of the sod' there will be some environmental impact and that this is reflected in the development design," he insists.

Ireland's tourism resources must embrace sustainability if they are not to be altered beyond recognition, he says. Biological diversity, prevention of climatic change and conservation of natural resources depend on it too. The right customer is an environmentally-friendly one, amenable to that approach. Sufficient numbers are needed to make a project viable yet they must be sufficiently limited to ensure sustainable goals are met. "Immediately, one can note difference between marketing a sustainable tourism angling product and, for instance, a car or domestic appliance."

Angling tourism success cannot be measured solely by how many anglers arrive and how much they spend. "The whole concept of sustainable tourism is considerably more complex," he adds.

Ireland's marine and inland waterways are still some of the cleanest in Europe. Even with increasing pollution, the overall environmental situation is good. That, however, may not be a result of design but of low levels of development up to now, he believes. The "angling tourism marketeer" needs to adopt a green approach and reappraise classical marketing parameters, he says. "It is necessary to quantify not only the positives of increased tourism numbers but also the negatives."