Of all the counties in Ireland, Waterford is ideally placed to develop an expanded tourism product that is focussed on green and sustainable objectives, a high profile local politician reckons. This, he said, arises from its landscape and ecosystems, its heritage and its location.
“In an uncertain era for the tourism industry, it is timely that new sectors of product are examined. These should not only attract new visitors, but should give added value and support to the traditional market”, said Tramore Town Councillor and former Town Mayor Joe Conway.
“Some estimates put the rise in green and sustainable tourism worldwide at between ten and fifteen per cent each year. It is also believed that this growth is less likely to fall victim to the downturn in developed economies”, he said.
The European Landscape Convention (2000) of the Council of Europe, in its preamble, notes: “…that the landscape has an important public interest role in the cultural, ecological, environmental and social fields, and constitutes a resource favourable to economic activity and whose protection, management and planning can contribute to job creation.”
He added: “It goes on to describe in detail how areas can apply for the Landscape Award of the Council of Europe and this is a step, I believe, that Waterford County Council needs to take without delay. As a member of its Culture and Heritage SPC, I am delighted to have been engaged in the production of the Heritage Plan 2008 – a document that deserves wide readership and treats extensively of landscape considerations. With this in place, the County Council is in a position to seek the Award, and – if attained – would find itself the subject of much favourable attention from those who aspire to a greener type of tourism.
“We are fortunate also with our location, being adjacent to two of the great economies of the world – Britain and France – with their combined populations of 122 million that includes a substantial cohort of the environmentally-aware. We have, in Waterford, direct sea and air connections with both. Indeed, the aeroplane used by Aer Arann to both countries – the ATR72 – is one of the most frugal and efficient airliners produced, with notably low fuel-burn.
“It would be regrettable if we did not recognise and capitalise on our status and advantages. Tourism will change appreciably worldwide over the next ten years – it is vital that we take cognisance of this and plan accordingly”.