Waterford Greenway gives county ‘a destination status we’ve never had’

When speaking about profitable native authority initiatives, one instance surfaces repeatedly within the dialog.

The Waterford Greenway, operating alongside the outdated rail line from the principle metropolis to Dungarvan within the east of the county, has been massively profitable — drawing vacationers and locals alike alongside its picturesque route, boosting the native economies it flows previous, and attracting envious glances from different areas of the nation.

It’s the jewel within the crown for Waterford for numerous causes, says Michael Walsh, chief govt of Waterford Metropolis and County Council.

“For one factor, it shifted our tourism market. Waterford metropolis by no means did tourism besides when Waterford Crystal was open. Kilbarry [the factory] did 200,000 or 300,000 guests a yr, however they got here in on a bus after which they went away on the bus.

“We intentionally introduced the Waterford Crystal Customer’s Centre in right here to the town centre, to align us with the heritage proposition basically.

“That, together with the greenway, has most likely given us a vacation spot standing that we by no means had. They’re each of a top quality and we labored to achieve that high quality as a result of we hoped that doing so would maintain them — and so they additionally aligned with our general positioning as a result of the 2 issues now we have are the heritage house and the nice outdoor.”

The Waterford Greenway at Kilmacthomas. Picture: Dan Linehan
The Waterford Greenway at Kilmacthomas. Image: Dan Linehan

The latter attraction was an amenity — or set of facilities — clearly in existence endlessly. For Walsh and co the problem was easy: how greatest to point out off Waterford’s outdoor?

“What’s vital is that the coastal and mountain choices work in attracting guests but in addition entice individuals to residing right here — the 2 are considerably umbilical.

“Your fame is knowledgeable by a cluster of issues so the greenway contributed to that considerably. So did the heritage space within the metropolis centre — however the Viking Triangle, for example, would have been as a lot about id and self-pride as it might be about an precise customer attraction.

“In different phrases, that is the origin of the town. You inform your story not only for guests, however for locals who, even when they don’t discover that work, nonetheless have a broad sense of relationship with the essence of the place.

“It’s that broader factor of making a vacation spot for individuals. How do you do this? With a cluster of points of interest, not only one just like the greenway.

“We’ve simply had a mushy opening for Mount Congreve simply out the highway from the town as a result of what we’re trying to do is construct that cluster of points of interest.

“The specialists speak about having seven or eight must-do points of interest to creating someplace good to go to, and we’re near that.

The Dungarvan to Waterford Greenway at Clonea, Co Waterford. Picture: Dan Linehan 
The Dungarvan to Waterford Greenway at Clonea, Co Waterford. Image: Dan Linehan 

“We’re fortunate with Tramore, for example in that the amenity is on our doorstep, it’s regenerated deal — and likewise with the recognition of the wetsuit, which have to be one of many biggest vacationer innovations of all time. It means water actions are year-round, kind of, and if individuals come for the greenway they produce other choices additionally.”

And other people definitely come for the greenway. There have been doubters and critics, but it surely has been a runaway success. Walsh acknowledges the publicity the enterprise acquired “was a big catalyst in awakening {the marketplace}”.

“There are only a few issues that you simply do within the morning that you would make certain that just about everybody in Eire would learn about it, however the greenway is in that territory.

“But it surely’s additionally an exceptional native amenity. I nonetheless have individuals come as much as me, thanking me due to that.”

Is {that a} important a part of its success? The very fact it attracts in locals in addition to guests?

“While you’re doing the multi-criteria evaluation the vacationer aspect is only one a part of it,” says Walsh. “There are well being advantages, amenity advantages — the vacationer is an financial profit, they’re bringing a couple of quid however there’s a complete lot extra to it.

“We’ve had an explosion of biking and strolling within the county as a complete. We do measure the numbers on the greenway and stuff like that, however the general change in behavioural patterns could be actually important and optimistic.

“In that sense, it ticked a heap of bins, in the event you like. But it surely additionally fell properly for us — or we made it fall — in that it was an ideal challenge with the amalgamation of metropolis and county council. It joined county city and metropolis in a pure hyperlink.

“That’s what we in the end need — to get to New Ross, we’re engaged on the North Quays and on bringing it correctly from Bilberry in to the Clock Tower.

“There are a few proposals about occurring to attach Dungarvan to Youghal — although that might be a problem — in addition to Youghal to Midleton, Midleton to Cork.”

As with every future plan, then, native enthusiasm is a big issue.

“The tourism is vital, and we stated we’d put slightly bit into tourism, as a result of it has an inherent financial influence and a reputational influence — but it surely’s just one aspect to the equation. The native aspect is big with any plans like this.”

Nationwide identification, vacationer magnet, financial dividend, well being and health advantages — however the native buy-in is vital to every thing. An vital lesson for these making comparable plans.

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