Funding of €1,917,770 for the second phase of the Celtic Routes tourism project has been welcomed by the Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr Pat Kennedy.
He said: “It is more important than ever, in a COVID-ravaged tourism industry, that we do everything in our power to entice more visitors to Wicklow and our partner counties and try to recover some of the lost ground. The Celtic Routes project is an example of the kind of stimulus that we need right now.”
Celtic Routes is a partnership project between Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire County Councils and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority in Wales and Wicklow, Wexford and Waterford City and County Councils in Ireland.
It’s a branded collection of tourism experiences encouraging travellers to visit Ireland and Wales to discover the Celtic spirit by suggesting immersive and authentic experiences in West Wales and South East Ireland.
Phase 2 will focus on developing the legacy of Celtic Routes by further enhancing the visitor experience working closely with the tourism sector. Already businesses from Wales have been visiting Ireland to learn and share best practice with their Irish counterparts.
A toolkit is available for businesses and destinations with guidance and ideas about how they can create their own Celtic experiences and contribute to the success of the project.
The successful bid for the second phas was made on behalf of the Celtic Routes partnership to the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) which will take the project through to 2023. The contract is partly funded via the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Cooperation programme 2014-2020.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath, TD said: “I want to congratulate the Celtic Routes project for its success in securing additional funding under the Ireland Wales Cooperation Programme 2014-2020. As the tourism industry seeks to recover from the impact of COVID-19, the extension of this project, which promotes ongoing cooperation between West Wales and the sunny South East of Ireland, reminds us of the wealth of natural beauty, heritage and tourist amenities that are so important in contributing to regional development in both economies.”
The Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council Councillor Ger Carthy applauded the work of the Local Authorities in Ireland to steer the promotion of the Celtic Routes stating: “It gives me great pleasure to congratulate the Project Partners on the continuation of the Project. This €1.9m funding supports the ethos and aims of Ireland’s Ancient East, to promote the most personally engaging cultural destination in Europe by harnessing the authentic character of the real Ireland, its living culture, lush landscapes and hidden history, opening it up for everyone.”
The Mayor of the City and County of Waterford, Cllr Damien Geoghegan, also welcomed the funding announcement, saying: “The Celtic Routes project is an exciting venture which links the communities in South East Ireland and Wales in a very tangible way. The focus on the lesser travelled path is an exciting one and Waterford has a very special offering in the many hidden gems along our stunning coastline, rugged mountain trails and Greenway. The investment of €1.9m is particularly welcome as our tourism and hospitality sector is gearing up for reopening in a new and re-imagined way”.
Cllr Peter Hughes, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “The Celtic Routes project aims to persuade visitors driving through each of the partner destinations who are en-route to more established destinations to stop and spend time exploring each area and visit time and time again. An exciting programme is planned which will enable existing and new Celtic Routes networks to develop and build on success so far and to work together to mitigate the effect of COVID-19.”
Carmarthenshire County Council Leader, Cllr Emlyn Dole, added: “The Phase 2 proposal will build on the strong foundations that have been developed to date and provide an opportunity for the initiative to fully deliver to its potential.”
Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas MS, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, commented: “We’re as keen as ever to promote and foster Welsh links with Ireland; we have many similarities in terms of our traditions, culture and economies. Now the UK has left the EU this form of co-operation is even more important and part of our ambitions within the Ireland Wales Shared Statement and Joint Action Plan. We want to continue to collaborate and work in partnership to ensure that we grow and prosper with the wealth of opportunities that the Wales-Ireland relationship has to offer.”