Dublin-Galway off-road cycle route would have significant tourism potential
Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has proposed the development of Ireland’s first cross-country cycle route, which would have significant tourism potential and could bring in millions of revenue.
Running from Dublin to Galway, and based on a similar design to the highly successful Great Western Greenway in Mayo, this new route would be the first cross-country off-road trail in Ireland and would be designed for cyclists, but could also be used by walkers.
Minister Varadkar has instructed the National Roads Authority to look at possible routes for an off-road cycle path from Maynooth to Galway. And within Dublin, the National Transport Authority is already funding detailed design work for sections along the Royal Canal. Dedicated funding for the overall project has not been allocated.
“A national off-road cycle trail would be a first for Ireland and would be a great tourism asset. I have instructed the National Roads Authority and the National Transport Authority to start planning for the project. Ireland doesn’t have a cross-country, off-road cycle route, and this would have significant potential to be marketed internationally and attract new tourists who may want to walk or cycle across Ireland,” Minister Varadkar said.
While no decision has been made on the final route alignment, the Royal Canal is an obvious candidate for the stretch outside Dublin from Mullingar to Maynooth. Some €451,000 has already been allocated by the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport to develop a path along the Royal Canal from Boardstown towards the Meath border.
In Dublin, funding from the Department has already extended the Premium Grand Canal Cycle Scheme through the south docklands to Sherriff Street. Funding of €600,000 has also been allocated to develop the Royal Canal path from Blanchardstown to Ashtown. The NTA and local authorities are now considering how to extend this route out to Maynooth.
“The off-road Coast to Coast cycleway in the UK is proving very successful, while the Camino de Santiago in Spain offers a variety of routes and stages. Cycling holidays are already hugely popular in Europe. If we can secure necessary levels of funding, I would love to see this project being completed within the next few years. It has the potential to bring in at least €15 million per annum, much of that going straight into local businesses along the route,” Minister Varadkar said.
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport: 01 6041090 / 01 6041087
Nick Miller 086 6992080
Note for Editors
The most recent figures available on cycle tourism show that 173,000 visitors to Ireland in 2011 engaged in cycling during their stay, spending an estimated €200 million. It’s estimated that a Dublin-Galway cycle route could attract 30,000 international tourists per annum to Ireland. If each of these spends just €500 per trip, associated expenditure would be €15 million per annum.
The 48km Great Western Greenway, which was completed in 2011, has set the standard for cycling projects in Ireland and has been hugely successful. An independent economic assessment concluded that overseas visitors using the Greenway are bringing around €2.8 million to the region. There have been major spin-offs for the local economy, through accommodation, bike hire, and luggage transfer services.
While the cost of a cross-country route would be significant, good quality routes in the right place have potential to generate benefits far in excess of the costs. Tourism Ireland believes this route could be marketed internationally. There is also the potential to look at marketing the route in stages, to generate return visits from overseas tourists. Failte Ireland could also work with the tourism trade and local partners to develop packages based on the route.