Wildsea Europe's Team is awaiting the arrival of the New Year with our spirits uplifted and a smile on our faces, as a new, challenging mission lies ahead. The European Union is supporting Wildsea Europe's Partners in a new €375.000-initiative designed to develop a Sustainable Diving Route connecting “flagship” diving sites & ecotourism destinations along Europe’s Atlantic coastline.
The Wildsea Atlantic Ocean Heritage Route (“WAOH! Route”) will be 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. 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 upcoming marine eco-tourism opportunities. 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 Maritime and Fisheries Fund through the European Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises (EASME) and 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. The WAOH! 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.
- Developing at least 2 new, transnational tourism products based on the competitive advantages and attractiveness 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.
- 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 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, while inspiring 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.
The Project Kick-Off meeting and a formal Press Conference will be held in Galicia (Spain) in February 22nd – 23rd, 2018, hosted by WAOH Route’s partner Turismo de Galicia.
Stay tuned for more news soon!