At a recent awards ceremony, Ecotourism Ireland presented internationally recognised certification in Ecotourism standards to a group of Galway tourism businesses who had received training and funding from Galway Rural Development under the Rural Development Programme (LEADER).
The winners included:
- Athenry based Fidelma Ray of Cycle West Ireland who received a Gold award as an ‘Ecotourism Operator’
- Slieve Aughty Riding Centre which attained a Gold award for their ‘Walking with a Donkey and Family Green Holidays’.
- Peter Downey of Riverside Paradise of Esker, Banagher, Co. Galway who received a Silver award.
- Flor Burke of Crann óg Eco Farm, Drummin, Gort, Co. Galway who also received a Silver award.
Galway Rural Development Enterprise Office, Patricia Kelly explained the background to the awards stating that “Under the Rural Development Programme (LEADER) Galway Rural Development initiated training over the last three years to encourage the development of ecotourism in East Galway. Businesses that have participated are at the forefront in terms of incorporating eco principles into the tourism experiences they offer to customers,” commented Patricia Kelly, Enterprise Officer, Galway Rural Development.
Ecotourism is defined by The International Ecotourism Society TIES as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people” focuses on ecologically and socially responsible, nature-based tourism that fosters environmental appreciation and understanding while contributing to the local economy.
Speaking at the awards presentation, Delia Colahan, CEO, Galway Rural Development congratulated the recipients saying “We wish our programme participants much success in the future, they believe in their product and the ethos of Ecotourism and we are pleased to have funded this programme and look forward to seeing the businesses to continue with great success.” Ms. Colahan continued that “International and domestic travellers care more and more about the environment and are looking for unique, authentic experiences that are sustainable. Rural Ireland is perfectly suited to the creation of sustainable networks of rural businesses by people passionate about their natural resources.”
Other participants in the Galway Rural Development’s Ecotourism training programme who attended the awards presentation were Gary Gorman of Lakeview Holidays, Dolores O’Shea of Ireland Reaching Out, Stan Cahill of Coole Park, Gort, Alan Burgess of Athenry Heritage Centre and Maria McNamara of Raheen Woods Hotel, Athenry.