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Staycations helping to fast-track 'Circuit of Ireland' greenway

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The Waterford Greenway is widely used by families

The Waterford Greenway is widely used by families

The Waterford Greenway is widely used by families

The Covid-19 pandemic is set to fast-track the development of a greenway 'Circuit of Ireland'. 

Tourism chiefs, impressed by the success of the Wild Atlantic Way and the Waterford Greenway Project, now hope to create on an incremental basis a special route around Ireland for walkers, cyclists and families simply seeking a stroll or a picnic.

Waterford's Greenway - as well as key coastal walking routes in Dublin, Wicklow and Cork - have witnessed enormous use by families during the pandemic lockdown.

Such use has highlighted the potential of outdoor tourism and leisure attractions in Ireland.

Greenway facilities have already been endorsed by local authorities and health officials for the leisure and wellbeing benefits they offer.

Tourism Minister Catherine Martin is to tour the new Kilkenny pedestrian pathway which will link he Waterford and Wexford greenways together.

The 24km route is already under construction and is expected to be open to the public by May 2022.

Waterford Mayor and councillor Damien Geoghegan said the route which will link New Ross with the North Quays in Waterford city will dramatically enhance the appeal of the entire south east region.

"It is fantastic - it is another significant investment in the region," he said.

"It is another significant investment in greenways and as we all know here in Waterford the greenway has been a game changer for the entire area."

Councillor Geoghegan said the south Kilkenny and Wexford extension of the greenway is a tremendous example of inter-authority cooperation.

"For long enough I think we were looking at places like Cork, Kerry and Galway as being the tourist hotspots in Ireland," he said.

Excellent

"The greenway is a tremendous asset and it continues to be about bringing the tourists in.

"This addition to the greenway, which will link New Ross to Dungarvan via Waterford city, is an excellent addition. We want tourists to visit here, to stay here and to spend their euros here."

Major greenway projects are also under development in Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Clare and Galway.

It is hoped that by eventually linking such projects, Ireland can exploit the surging market for safe and healthy outdoor family holiday pursuits.

The 46km Waterford Greenway has been hailed as Ireland's most successful eco-tourism project to date.

In 2018, the project boasted almost 290,000 visitors and has proved a God-send for small tourism ventures in west Waterford.

It is expected to surge past the 350,000 visitor mark this year thanks to the staycation boost generated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The route boasts 11 bridges and three viaducts, as well as a 400-metre tunnel between Waterford city and Dungarvan.

Its popularity has seen an increase in bike hire, food services and visitors to major adjacent attractions such as Mount Congreve gardens.