Fermanagh’s Marble Arch Caves Geopark is set to benefit from a €4million European fund to promote its tourism and education facilities in conjunction with Waterford’s Copper Coast Geopark and Vulkaneifel Geopark in Germany.
Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI) along with representatives from the Fermanagh, Waterford and Vulkaneifel geoparks jointly applied for INTERREGIIIB funding which will help encourage high quality, sustainable tourism in their respective areas.
Welcoming the funding announcement, Bruce Robinson, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, the GSNI’s parent department, said: “Geoparks bring the wonders of our geological heritage to a wider public through the development of sustainable tourism. This funding will mean over €1million of investment in the Marble Arch Caves – Northern Ireland’s only Geopark - which will help create an enhanced, high quality tourism product in the area, helping to increase tourism spend in Fermanagh and an associated increase in jobs.”
To mark the official launch of this international project, key players from the geological, tourism and educational fields were brought together for a presentation in Enniskillen on 1st October. Speaking at the ceremony were Dr Margarete Patzak, from the Earth Science Division of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation).
“This is a very exciting project for Fermanagh” said Rodney Connor Chief Executive, Fermanagh District Council. “Initiatives such as this drive sustainable tourism forward which cannot only be good for the county but for the province too”
Dr Margarete Patzak, UNESCO said of the project
“that it is another milestone on our long way to promote geological heritage. The three cooperating Geoparks already belong to the "UNESCO Geoparks Network" which provides a platform of cooperation between experts and practitioners from all over the world. Thinking in global terms, it is essential to rely on strong partners on a local level. The European project will help all partners to build a strong foundation for future development”.
Other benefits brought by this project include the strong networking links between Fermanagh, Waterford and the Eifel region in Germany.
Left to Right - Dr Margarete Patzak, UNESCO representative, Des Cowman, Copper Coast Waterford, Councillor John O'Kane Fermanagh District Council, Richard Watson Countryside Manager, Fermanagh District Council, Sonia Mauras Secretriat Lille.
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