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Posted: 09/11/2023

Ambitious Plans for Blueways Announced

An ambitious action plan has been launched to drive forward Blueways across the island of Ireland.


Blueways encourage the the use of lakes, canals, rivers and sheltered coastal environments for kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddleboarding, walking and cycling while connecting with nature and heritage. Blueways are aimed at the low to no-skilled ‘dabbler’ and therefore activity providers, eateries, accommodation and attractions all perform a key role in animating the experience. 


The 3-year Blueway Partnership Action Plan sets out key actions to ensure the successful development, promotion, management and maintenance of high-quality Blueways so that locals and visitors can consistently and sustainably enjoy animated experiences on or close the water. The Blueway Partnership consists of Fáilte Ireland, Sport Ireland, Waterways Ireland, Sport Northern Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland who have the stated ambition to grow the network of accredited Blueways from 4 to 10 by 2025.


To reflect this ambition, a key initial step has been the establishment of new Blueway Coordinator and Development Advisor roles which will provide the dedicated resource required to support the delivery of the Action Plan and the Blueways Partnership. Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland has been appointed to this role, of which a key component will be to support Blueway developers to achieve official Blueway accreditation. This ensures a consistent high standard from a technical and safety perspective and will deliver best in class sustainable visitor experiences. 


There are currently four accredited Blueways in Ireland, Boyne Blueway, Suir Blueway (Tipperary) Lough Derg Blueway and Arranmore-Burtonport Blueway (Donegal) and whilst a sustained effort to develop more Blueways will remain, the Action Plan highlights the need to also support the management, promotion and animation of existing Blueways.


The Action Plan ensures the Blueway Partnership is well positioned to respond to the growing public demand for quality infrastructure close to water and nature. Fáilte Ireland research shows that 73%* of domestic tourists engaged in outdoor activities, ranging from walking and hiking, to swimming, kayaking and canoeing, on their most recent overnight trip. In addition, Tourism NI highlights^ that 34% of adults in Northern Ireland are now more adventurous compared to pre- pandemic.

Download the Blueway Partnership Action Plan 2023-2025 

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