A ‘world class’ Kilkenny watersports hub looks a step closer following confirmation of a funding boost from Government announced last week.
The centre will be located in the carpark of County Hall and will be a haven for watersports and will also help realise the potential of the River Nore.
Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin and Fáilte Ireland have announced a major new investment worth €19 million. The funding will be used to build world-class facility centres at 22 locations across the country, including Kilkenny.
The significant increase in people enjoying outdoor water-based activities such as kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and open water swimming is expected to continue to grow year on year, and not just during the summer months. This means all-weather changing facilities, secure storage and bathrooms at beaches and inland water spots will be in huge demand.
Kilkenny Water Sports Hub will be developed under this scheme, in partnership with Kilkenny County Council. Each centre will provide hot shower, changing and toilet facilities, secure storage, induction spaces, equipment washdown and orientation points.
They will be fully wheelchair accessible and built using sustainability best practices such as solar heating panels to meet ‘Nearly Zero Energy Building Standards’.
This investment scheme, developed in partnership between Fáilte Ireland and local authorities, will support the local economy and the outdoor activity sector by significantly enhancing the overall visitor experience, providing new business opportunities in local communities and allowing for the extension of the tourism season beyond the traditional summer months.
Welcoming the announcement, Cllr Andrew McGuinness, Cathaoirleach, Kilkenny County Council said it was great news for Kilkenny to be in a position to develop a water-based activity hub along the River Nore in the city.
“Developing an activity hub to increase access to the Nore that will be accessible to all is a great initiative for Kilkenny’s tourism and hospitality providers and our local outdoor enthusiasts alike. The on-going support of Fáilte Ireland is very welcome as we prepare to reopen business and avail of the local tourist trade for the summer of 2021. The water-based activity hub will add another string to Kilkenny’s bow in terms of attractions in the years to come,” he said.
Green Party councillor Maria Dollard said that the funding announcement was a welcome boost.
“The surge in people enjoying outdoor water-based activities such as outdoor swimming, kayaking and water paddling is expected to double year on year and it’s the perfect time for Kilkenny to turn its face to our beautiful river Nore and enjoy all it has to offer,” said Cllr Dollard.
“This new facility will provide hot showers, changing facilities, toilet facilities, secure storage, induction spaces, equipment washdown and orientation points. I’m so delighted that Kilkenny will be able to provide these facilities right in the heart of the city, to local and visitor alike.”
The new Water Sports Hub will be located at the County Hall car park and include a pontoon at the riverside for safe access.
“Ireland is world-class when it comes to providing water-based activities which are enjoyed by local communities and visitors along our stunning coastline, rivers and lakes,” said Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin.
“We’ve seen an upward trend in people enjoying outdoor water activities over the last year and we know the appeal of the outdoors will continue to grow post-Covid-19 so we must ensure the Irish experience meets and exceeds visitor expectations.”
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