‘An­other com­pelling rea­sons for vis­i­tors to come to our shores’

The Sligo Champion - - NEWS -

An Taoiseach, Leo Varad­kar turned the sod on the site of the new Na­tional Surf Cen­tre in Strand­hill on Fri­day shortly af­ter an­nounc­ing it had se­cured €615,000 un­der the new Ru­ral Re­gen­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment Fund.

The in­vest­ment, along with €1m from Bord Fáilte, will de­liver a fa­cil­ity that will serve as a Na­tional Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence for surf­ing in Ire­land and will be a key fo­cal point for ac­tiv­i­ties on the Wild At­lantic Way.

The pro­vi­sion of this cen­tre will pro­vide lo­cal surf schools, in­di­vid­u­als and the lo­cal surf club with a safe and pro­fes­sional ser­vice.

The project will seek to at­tract new vis­i­tors both do­mes­tic and over­seas to Sligo and to build on its de­vel­op­ing rep­u­ta­tion for surf­ing.

“It will act as a fo­cal point for surf­ing and other out­door ac­tiv­i­ties on the Wild At­lantic Way.

The project will be sit­u­ated at the ‘Four Winds’ site on Strand­hill prom­e­nade and the 500sq.m cen­tre will pro­vide a mod­ern fit-for-pur­pose cen­tre with suf­fi­cient chang­ing, show­er­ing and toi­let fa­cil­i­ties, board and locker stor­age, gym, off-beach train­ing fa­cil­ity and multi-func­tion meet­ing room.

The project will de­liver new recre­ational spa­ces and utilise a cur­rently un­used and va­cant site on a key prom­e­nade in Sligo.

In ad­di­tion, an in­ter­pre­ta­tion el­e­ment will be pro­vided to tell the story and his­tory of surf­ing at Strand­hill and Sligo.

Safety pro­vi­sion for beach users and surfers will also be pro­vided with a surf res­cue fa­cil­ity that will mon­i­tor the beach us­age and sup­port surf schools and the surf club.

The Cen­tre will also serve as an in­for­ma­tion hub and vis­i­tor fo­cal point for the area with in­for­ma­tion on the wide range of vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ences in the re­gion.

This is the first of its kind for Ire­land and it will fur­ther po­si­tion Sligo, and in­deed Ire­land as an in­ter­na­tional surf­ing des­ti­na­tion.

An Taoiseach wel­comed the fund­ing em­pha­sis­ing: “Strand­hill is al­ready a very pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion thanks to its won­der­ful lo­ca­tion, great beaches and of course its se­cret weapon – the waves that have be­come so pop­u­lar with lo­cals and vis­i­tors alike.

“So I am de­lighted to be an­nounc­ing this sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing for the de­vel­op­ment of the new Strand­hill Surf Cen­tre, which I have no doubt will make this coastal town even more pop­u­lar in the years ahead. The Govern­ment is com­mit­ted to in­vest­ing in tourism and sport all over Ire­land. Through Fáilte Ire­land we want to push the bound­aries of what we can of­fer the in­ter­na­tional tourist and vis­it­ing sports­peo­ple.

“Ire­land’s First Na­tional Surf Cen­tre in Sligo will be a fan­tas­tic ad­di­tion to Ire­land’s port­fo­lio of at­trac­tions, and will give over­seas vis­i­tors yet an­other com­pelling rea­son to come to our shores.”

Stress­ing the im­por­tance of in­vest­ing in long term tourism in­fras­truc­ture, Fáilte Ire­land CEO, Paul Kelly ex­plained –

“The de­vel­op­ment of Ire­land’s first state of the art Na­tional Surf Cen­tre along the Wild At­lantic Way is a new de­par­ture for tourism de­vel­op­ment. This sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing will en­hance the tourism po­ten­tial of the lo­cal area and en­sure that we cap­i­talise on the grow­ing rep­u­ta­tion Ire­land has as a surf­ing des­ti­na­tion.

“Fur­ther­more, in­vest­ment in world class ac­tiv­ity and ad­ven­ture in­fras­truc­ture along the Wild At­lantic Way en­sures that we can pro­vide an un­par­al­leled vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence that will en­cour­age vis­i­tors to ex­plore lesser trav­elled parts of the West Coast, there­fore broad­en­ing the pos­i­tive eco­nomic im­pact of tourism be­yond the bet­ter known tourist hot spots and drive rev­enue and jobs into the com­mu­nity.”

This first Na­tional Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence will fur­ther en­hance the ap­peal of Ire­land and the West Coast to over­seas mar­kets as an in­ter­na­tional surf­ing cen­tre of ex­cel­lence to all of our main over­seas mar­kets.

Wel­com­ing the an­nounce­ment Sligo County Coun­cil Cathaoir­leach, Martin Baker said -

“The Cen­tre will be a flag­ship project on the Wild At­lantic Way, it is ex­cel­lent news for the lo­cal com­mu­nity and the Strand­hill Mar­itime Board chaired by Coun­cil­lor De­clan Bree.

“Fund­ing for the project will see Sligo be­com­ing the surf­ing cap­i­tal of the West, and will bring to fruition the fore­sight and am­bi­tion of those who iden­ti­fied Sligo’s po­ten­tial on the Wild At­lantic Way,” he added.

Deputy Tony McLough­lin said the fund­ing an­nounce­ment, cou­pled with the one ear­lier for a Yeats Trail, was great news for County Sligo. ay is also wel­come.

“In ad­di­tion to fur­ther an­nounce­ments of suc­cess­ful ap­pli­ca­tions early in the New Year, it is also in­tended to an­nounce a fresh call for ap­pli­ca­tions un­der the Fund in mid-2019.

“The Ru­ral Re­gen­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment Fund will help en­sure that ru­ral Ire­land con­tin-ues to be a won­der­ful place in which to live, work and raise chil­dren.

“This will be achieved by the bound­less en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm that I see ev­ery day in our ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

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