Since the publication of Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland (HOOW-IMP), there has been an increased recognition of the importance of Ireland’s marine natural resource as a national asset. This is particularly true for tourism and recreation in marine and coastal areas. With marine assets consisting of 900,000km2 of seas and a coastline stretching 7,700 km, the Irish marine and coastal tourism sector has the potential to be a key driver of growth in what are often rural areas with limited other opportunities for economic development. There is a need however to establish a comprehensive understanding of Ireland’s marine tourism and leisure industry, to accurately estimate the potential impact of new policy measures aimed at developing the sector. While some noteworthy research has been carried out on the sector the National Marine Research & Innovation Strategy 2017–2021 notes that research in this area is “Ad-hoc” and suggest other topics worthy of further research. With these topics in mind and building on past research this project proposes to produce an audit of marine leisure enterprises and the key ‘blue’ assets, beaches, piers, cliffs, etc. that are used by such enterprises. The project will also examine the attitudes of local communities and management towards the impact of marine related tourism activities in their area and provide guidelines for the appropriate development of ‘blue’ asset based social enterprises. It will also employ past marine tourist survey datasets to develop a model of demand for marine tourism activity in Ireland that estimates the influence of the characteristics of tourists on marine activity participation. It is envisaged that outputs from the project will lead to the identification of strategic policies that could be adopted by Government to develop a holistically sustainable sector in the long term.

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