Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Anne Rabbitte has called on the Government to speed up the rollout of the promised Ireland’s Lakelands strategy to boost tourism in east Galway and midlands counties.  The Lakelands initiative is contained in the Programme for Government, but more than 4 months after its publication, no progress on the project has been made.

Deputy Rabbitte commented, “Parts of Galway and the midlands have been left behind as strategies like the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East take off.  Despite a huge tourism offering in areas like Portumna, with outdoor trails, hiking and fishing activities, and unique archaeological and historical sites, the region is being overlooked in favour of the west and east coasts.

“I am gravely concerned that the Ireland’s Lakelands strategy will fall by the wayside, particularly as Tourism Ireland has just opened a tendering process for a feasibility study “to ascertain the potential for growth and the best mechanism to unlock those areas that lie between the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East”.  While any strategy to boost tourism is welcome, there is absolutely no reference to the Ireland’s Lakelands initiative.

Ireland’s Lakelands programme provided a unique opportunity and held huge potential to develop tourism attractions across these counties and the potential is huge, however the lack of progress to date raises red flags about the Government’s commitment to the strategy.  Minister Ross needs to clarify whether the Government is committed to the Ireland’s Lakelands project, as was promised in the Programme for Government, or if this was merely an empty gesture to appease the tourism communities in the areas which are not included in the Wild Atlantic Way or Ireland’s Ancient East”.