Brexit Fallout Jeopardizes Promising Irish Tourism Project

Brexit Fallout Threatens Collapse of Celtic Routes Tourism Project Connecting Irish and Welsh Counties
Brexit Fallout Jeopardizes Promising Irish Tourism Project

Unique Tourism Project Connecting Irish and Welsh Counties Faces Collapse Due to Brexit Fallout

A groundbreaking tourism project that aimed to connect three Irish counties with three Welsh counterparts is at risk of collapsing due to the financial strain caused by Brexit. Celtic Routes, launched in 2019, was designed to expand and promote links between Waterford, Wexford, and Wicklow in Ireland, and Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, and Ceredigion in Wales, with the goal of increasing visitor travel between the two areas.

Despite facing a funding crisis, a recent report revealed that almost 300 million people worldwide have accessed information on the Coastal Routes through various platforms, making the project’s operations over the past four years highly successful.

Initially, the project received €2 million in funding from the European Territorial Cooperation Programme. In 2020, the Welsh government announced additional funding arrangements to replace the EU-administered funds in a post-Brexit landscape. In total, nearly €4 million has been invested in the project.

However, the project’s future is now under threat due to the UK’s departure from the European Union. The Celtic Routes Project Officer, Oonagh Messette, warned that operations may have to cease by the end of August unless new funds are secured. Messette stated, “As a direct result of Brexit, there will be no continuation of the Ireland Wales Cooperation Fund. Without the funding to support activities, much will be lost. Our partnership, networks, collaboration, and marketing power will essentially come to a close this year.”

Michael Nicholson, a Project Partner and Director of Service with Wicklow County Council, described Celtic Routes as one of the most successful projects he has ever encountered. He emphasized that the collaboration has brought the counties closer together, benefiting tourism in Wicklow significantly. Nicholson added, “Between Brexit and the pandemic, it may take some time before we see measurable results, but having 300 million people view our area is extraordinary. None of our partners could have achieved that result alone. We have many ideas for continued alliances, but now everything is in jeopardy.”

In addition to boosting local tourism, the project aimed to transform lesser-known areas into new tourist sites, increasing the time visitors spent in these regions and boosting regional economies. The project garnered a total of 300 million views through various channels, including social media, print media, out-of-home advertising, and programmatic advertising. Analytics showed peaks of interest from the Indian subcontinent and Southern Europe, as well as traditional markets such as the UK, USA, Germany, and France.

Last summer, a TV series was filmed across all six counties involved in the project, which has since been shown on S4C in Wales and the BBC iPlayer. It will also be screened on TG4 in Ireland this month.

“The cross-county and cross-national benefits of Celtic Routes are evident at this stage, and for such a valuable resource for the tourism and hospitality industry in both countries to be lost would be nothing short of a disaster,” said Messette. “A solution must be found to save this unique venture.”