First steps taken to set up Lough Erne Blueway

Members of Cavan Canoe Club and officials at the launch of the Shannon-Erne Blueway

Members of Cavan Canoe Club and officials at the launch of the Shannon-Erne Blueway recently

WORK is underway to establish Lough Erne as a “Blueway,” an initiative which could prove a massive tourism boost to the county. 
Waterways Ireland recently held a meeting with members of the local community at their Enniskillen headquarters to discuss the “development of initiatives to maximise the potential of the Erne waterway with an aim to bringing prosperity to Fermanagh.” 
At the meeting, which was attended by business owners, outdoor recreation providers, community groups and various sport and leisure bodies, it was decided to explore setting up a Blueway on the upper and lower loughs, similar to the Shannon-Erne Blueway that was launched in Ballyconnell two weeks ago. 
Director of business development at Waterways Ireland, John Boyle, said: “The response was hugely positive with members voicing their support for greater partnership and collaboration, among all bodies, in order achieve a step change in how the Erne is promoted to locals and tourists alike.”
Mr Boyle said Waterways Ireland had a vision for the Erne, to develop recreational, heritage and environmental opportunities that would link people, history and nature and, in turn, help both the local community and visitors find more reasons to spend time on the lough. 
“In this way local communities and visitors can experience the wide spectrum of life that the waterways has to offer and in doing so provide economic, community and social regeneration to areas,” he continued. 
“The Erne waterway is renowned for its clean waters, beautiful scenery and fantastic heritage and culture, and has so much to offer the recreational user, yet is largely underdeveloped.”
Establishing areas of the lough’s navigation as a Blueway, said Mr Boyle, would provide opportunities for people to enjoy the waterway more, improve its infrastructure, and would establish trails around the Erne for paddling, walking, cycling and so on. 
“Equally important to the provision of the infrastructure, is the linking and interaction of existing local businesses, new providers, the community sector and public and voluntary sectors in order to provide a co-ordinated approach to economic regeneration and sustainability,” Mr Boyle said, adding that a similar initiative had already been established and heavily marketed by Waterways Ireland in areas of the north Shannon since 2014, and had proved very successful. 
A further meeting has now been arranged by Waterways Ireland to establish a way of bringing the project forward.

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