Local community members attend a cultural tourism workshop in Dunmore East, Ireland. Photo credit: Ian Dunne, Portalis 

Local events examined ways to develop cultural tourism in the Waterford Estuary and Ceredigion, Wales with the establishing of a crossborder cultural network. 

The cross-border local engagement series, held throughout October and November this year in Ireland and Wales, kicked off in Dunmore East, Ireland and concluded in Lampeter, Wales with keen interest shown by key local stakeholder groups. 

The events centred around the six coastal communities involved in the project, which include Tan-y-Bwlch in Ceredigion, Wales; Dunmore East, Ireland; The Aeron Valley in Ceredigion, Wales; The Hook Peninsula in Wexford, Ireland; Llangrannog in Ceredigion, Wales; and The Waterford Estuary harbour area & surrounding coastal villages, Ireland. 

The workshops introduced the Portalis project and explored how elements of the project can be used to develop cultural tourism in the coastal communities and their surrounding areas. There was great interest in the workshops, with many key local stakeholders attending to find out more about how the project could benefit their local community.  

Presentations gave an overview of the project and looked at the purpose of the cross border cultural network and how it would function to achieve cultural tourism development for the areas involved. 

Speaking about the events and the community engagement, Donal Nolan said: The feedback from our series of community engagement events was very positive. There seems to be a strong desire in all the estuary communities to improve the economic opportunities for their communities through the development of a sustainable cultural tourism sector. This all stems from the citizen science work carried out by Noel McDonagh over the years.”  

Feedback from attendees was captured through a survey which asked what the biggest tourism opportunities and issues were in their area. The results from the survey will be analyzed and used by the cross-border network group as a basis to formulate key tourism objectives to pursue in both Ireland and Wales.  

These objectives will be examined further at a network summit event in Spring 2023 in Wales, where according to Nicola Sharman, Welsh Network Lead for Portalis, the event will look to “develop these ideas further by bringing together representatives from both Ireland and Wales at an in-person meeting on the 23rd of March 2023”.  

Commenting on the success of the workshops, Joy Rooney, Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) for the Portalis project, and Researcher and Lecturer in Design, (SETU), said “These workshops are an important milestone in the project where we are receiving direct feedback from the key coastal communities. It is a great opportunity to understand what is important to local community and visitors and what they’d like to see developed in their community” 

The information gathered during these community engagements events will form the basis for establishing a Cross Border Network that will facilitate the development of Cultural Tourism sector that will be a catalyst for growth in the Irish and Welsh communities taking part in the Portalis project.

Portalis will hold more events at a further date in order to establish the cross border cultural network and support its inception. The aim will be to support the network so it will function as an entity long after the Portalis project concludes.  

To find out more about the Portalis project, visit: http://portalisproject.eu/