Saturday 22 February 2014

Coastal Tourism–Ireland?

Written by Gillian Mills –

The European Commission has presented a new strategy to support coastal and maritime tourism in Europe. Recognising the sector's potential for sustainable growth and job creation, the strategy outlines 14 EU actions 'to help coastal regions and businesses tackle the challenges they face and strengthen the sector's position as a key driver of Europe's blue economy'.

Included is a break-down of tasks that Member States, regions and industry stakeholders can undertake to complement the actions. 

The proposed actions include 'facilitating closer cooperation and dialogue across Europe between all coastal tourism stakeholders, public-private partnerships, promoting skills and innovation, promoting ecotourism, and creating an online guide to funding opportunities to help drive investment.

"Coastal and maritime tourism was identified in our 'Blue Growth' strategy as one of the key drivers for creating growth and new jobs, particularly in our coastal areas which often suffer from high unemployment," remarked European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki. 

Vice-President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for Industry, Entrepreneurship and Tourism, Antonio Tajani said he considered tourism to be a "fundamental economic leverage for growth in Europe, around which to build dedicated, consistent and integrated policies.

"A targeted strategy on coastal and maritime tourism highlights the potential of this important sector of tourism and the role it can play to fight unemployment, in particular among young people," he added.

The strategy also outlines challenges such a gaps in data and knowledge; volatile demand; high seasonality; a lack of adequate skills and innovation and difficulties accessing financing. 

'At the same time, it will make the sector's activities sustainable, preserve natural and cultural heritage, reap significant economic and environmental benefits, and help make the sector more competitive globally.'


Coastal and maritime tourism includes beach-based and nautical, cruising or boating tourism and is an essential driver for the economy of many coastal regions and islands in Europe.

It employs almost 3.2 million people, generating a total of €183 billion in gross value-added for the EU economy, representing over one third of the maritime economy gross product. Tourism is a growing business: in 2013, the number of nights spent in hotel or similar establishments reached a peak of 2.6 billion nights in the EU28, up by 1.6% from 2012[1].

Unlocking the potential of coasts and seas would contribute to the wealth and well-being of coastal regions and the EU's economy in general, while ensuring a sustainable and long-term development of all tourism-related activities.

The strategy is to be discussed at a Conference organised with the Greek Presidency on 10 March in Athens, which will bring together authorities and businesses and other stakeholders. 

Gillian Mills – Inshore – Ireland


Download of Full document available here -


Some extracts from

Study in support of policy measures for maritime and coastal tourism at EU level
Specific contract under FWC MARE/2012/06 -
SC D1/2013/01-SI2.648530

From page 5

“..although good practices has emerged in the past decades, mainstream business models in maritime and coastal tourism still seem to pose increasingly unsustainable challenges – although to different extents – due to persisting negative externalities in relation to social and environmental consequences for local communities, skills and qualifications of workers, consumption and exploitation of local natural resources.“

From page 16

Niche tourism12 is usually referring to such locations and/or services where “[…] profitability no longer rests solely on economies of scale and the exploitation of mass undifferentiated markets. Economies of scope, systems gains, segmented markets, designed and customised holidays are becoming more and more important for profitability and competitiveness in tourism”13. Niche maritime and coastal tourism therefore focuses on specific added-value services or locations attracting a potential lower volume of visitors, but which may value quality of services better than cost-effectiveness, due to higher spending willingness. This business model has largely benefitted from the recent emergence of new tourism-related social media and telecom services14, therefore allowing more selective and wealthy tourists to access highly personalised experiences through the emergence of dedicated “niche tourism” or even “luxury tourism” web agencies.

Examples of niche tourism are wellness and medical tourism, but also forms focusing on sports, adventure tourism, wildlife, eco,gastronomy and luxury tourism. Related tourism destinations and services are not necessarily grouped by geographic proximity or sea-basins, but are rather spread across coastal regions depending on specific added-value given by local natural and culture resources, or even local business creativity and ability to provide unique services and experiences.


In the context of all of the above its worth noting a recent comment made to Inshore-Ireland in an article regarding the collapsing Irish inshore fishery

“Also speaking to this paper, Eamon Dixon of the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association said it was only in the last two years that the Sea-fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has been in a position to address the problems.

But he cautions that the current level of control is not a deterrent as the agency is under-resourced, with too many areas to cover: food safety, sampling, EU audits and fisheries control.

“Unlicensed fishing is the norm in the inshore fishery, posing market risks and biological instability and a significant black market economy has developed. If we are serious about tackling this problem, Ireland needs to put real and robust long-term management plans in place on a species by species basis.” 

Source – Inshore-Ireland


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