The Wildsea Atlantic Ocean Heritage Route (“WAOH! Route”) is the first, European, Sustainable Diving Route connecting world-class diving sites from the extreme south in Portugal and Spain to the far north, encompassing Ireland and the UK. Building on the experience and results of Project “Wildsea Europe”, the WAOH Route will connect world-class “flagship” diving sites and destinations that will encourage, create and unite synergy between water sports and Europe’s unique, Atlantic marine heritage of landscapes, wildlife and habitats in combination with a range of maritime cultural heritage.
The Route will seek to enhance synergy of nautical sports (diving & snorkelling and kayaking – with over 25 million users worldwide) with upcoming marine eco-tourism opportunities (such as notably the €2 billion, global whale watching industry). It will notably promote synergy with Europe’s renowned maritime archaeology, museums, underwater tourism and gastronomy at the seaside, leading to an innovative offer of new, transnational tourism products.
The Project will run from January 1st, 2018 to December 30th, 2019 and is a joint initiative of Partners from 4 European countries (Spain, UK, Ireland & Portugal):
- Travelecoology (Project Coordinator, ES)
- Donegal County Council (IE)
- Forum Oceano (PT)
- Turismo de Galicia (ES)
- Visit Cornwall (UK)
- SUBMON (ES)
- World Cetacean Alliance (UK)
With the financial support of the European Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises (EASME) of the European Commission (EU), the “WAOH!” Route will target the following, specific objectives:
- Raising awareness of Europe as a sustainable, high quality destination by highlighting and connecting world-class, Atlantic diving sites, destinations and their associated natural & cultural heritage through development of a Route. The Route will cover 10 Atlantic diving destinations from 4 different countries at its inception, creating a shared identity based on a common theme - Europe’s unique, Atlantic marine & underwater habitats, vivid marine wildlife and maritime heritage – and a common brand (the “WILDSEA WAOH” brand).
- Developing at least 2 new, transnational tourism products based on the mapping of the available product offer and competitive advantages of each of the Route’s destinations.
- Ensuring the commercial uptake, success and long-term sustainability of the Route and its associated products and experiences, by developing a 3-year Strategy & Marketing Plan produced through wide stakeholder consultation and producing effective promotional materials and tools for wide dissemination and outreach.
- Building capacity amongst key destination management organizations and tourism SMEs in support of sustainable nautical water sports and ecotourism, delivering them criteria, guidelines and tools, respectively, to foster, monitor and manage a sustainable, responsible tourism activity at destination; and to enhance “Ocean literacy” and skills to apply best environmental practice in diving, snorkelling, kayaking and whale watching activities.
The “Wildsea Atlantic Ocean Heritage” Route will tap into a global market of 6 million divers, 20 million snorkel and kayak practitioners and the €2 billion whale watching industry to develop a new tourism scenario that will create new, more sustainable dynamics in mature “sun & beach” destinations and inspire a new model for emerging coastal destinations. It will create new, commercial and cross-marketing opportunities for local, water sport tourism companies and marine ecotourism operators, empowering local entrepreneurs and communities to sustain local wealth and employment, while celebrating and preserving Europe’s natural & cultural heritage.
Take a look at the Route's Stakeholder Handbook and find out how to engage in this exciting European effort!