Jim Falconer, who has also operated one of Waterford’s longest standing undertaker services, told The Munster Express: “Once again, Waterford has been left out of what is, no doubt about it, a great tourism product. But why have we been made the poor relation yet again? I just cannot get my head around this.
“And where is the political outrage about this? I’ve not seen one of our TDs or Senators for that matter stand up in the Oireachtas and ask why it is that one of the counties which flanks onto the Atlantic Ocean is not part of the Wild Atlantic Way. They’re asleep on the job when it comes to this as far as I’m concerned, and each of them needs to get the finger out and put this wrong to right.
“I cannot mince my words on this: I am outraged at our exclusion from this and am equally outraged by the apathy of our representatives in Leinster House. Why the hell has Waterford been excluded from this? Why has Waterford, yet again, been forgotten about?
“It’s even more inexcusable when you consider the European and UNESCO status of our beautiful Copper Coast, yet still Waterford isn’t deemed worthy of inclusion, and I simply cannot keep my sense of outrage to myself any longer.” Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland have engaged in extensive campaigns in order to attract domestic and international tourists to the Wild Atlantic Way.
When asked about Waterford’s omission, a spokesperson for Fáilte Ireland told The Munster Express that the Wild Atlantic Way was intended to focus solely on the west coast of Ireland.
“In essence the Wild Atlantic Way is an international tourism proposition for the West Coast of Ireland and the route itself is simply a device to bring scale and singularity to the tourism offering of the West of Ireland in terms of overseas promotion and marketing. The project was born out of the need to address the dramatic decline in international visitors to the West of Ireland over the last decade. The Wild Atlantic Way initiative was never intended to be defined by the extent of Ireland’s Atlantic Coast but was to broadly follow the routing of the Malin to Mizen geography and those west coast counties/geographies that share a common unifying tourism proposition,” said Fáilte Ireland Press Officer Louise Tolerton.
“As part of the Route Development process these extremities were extended on either end to anchor the route with the Northern Ireland border on the northern end (with a link to the Causeway Coastal Route) and to Kinsale on the southern end with Cork City as a key gateway and access point.”
She continued: “The main objective of the Wild Atlantic Way project is to motivate more overseas visitors to visit the West of Ireland and to give them reasons to “linger longer” in terms of tourism experiences and to encourage them to engage with the landscape and communities along the route. It is about encouraging incremental international visitors to choose the West of Ireland as a holiday destination.”
Ms Tolerton said plans were afoot to implement a “similar unifying tourism proposition” for counties on the east and south coasts of Ireland but did not reveal any specific details or a timescale for the implementation of such a project.
However, Ms Tolerton said the proposition for these counties would focus on “the richness of their historic built environment” and would more than likely include Waterford’s Viking history and Kilkenny’s Medieval past.
“This is a work in progress and is intended to form a complementary tourism proposition to the Wild Atlantic Way,” she said.
Tourism Ireland recently attracted criticism locally following the exclusion of Waterford City from a high profile tourist map.
Commenting on the exclusion, Tourism Ireland Chief Executive Niall Gibbons said the omission had been corrected and promised it wouldn’t happen again.
While Tramore was highlighted on the map, Mr Gibbons said there was no doubt that Waterford City’s omission should not have happened