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€500k 'masterplan' tackling traffic and congestion to improve visitor experience at Glendalough

Fáilte Ireland is working with a number of agencies to deliver the project.

shutterstock_1069290656 Source: Shutterstock/mielag

FÁILTE IRELAND HAS issued a tender worth €500,000 to come up with a “masterplan” on how to manage traffic and the visitor experience around Glendalough.

Glendalough is one of Ireland’s most popular free tourist attractions, with hundreds of thousands of people visiting each year.

Such is the popularity of Glendalough and its surrounding areas, that car parks in the area were closed “due to the sheer volume of traffic” last month amid fears there were so many people there that it would be impossible to practice social distancing. 

While visitors are largely staying away for now, a number of agencies are seeking a “visitor experience and management masterplan” that will allow Glendalough and the surrounding areas to cope with tourism demand in future.

There are around 735,000 visitors per annum to Glendalough, with 1.5 million visitors to the Wicklow Mountains National Park. 

In the tender documents, Fáilte Ireland says it is working with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Office of Public Works, Wicklow County Council and others on the project. 

There are a number of “challenges” being faced by the region in recent times. 

This includes parking challenges at peak times, lack of clarity of which car park is the best option and security at these car parks.

It also notes “too many confusing options” for visitors on what path to take and an intensification of visitors at a small number of sites with “most of the park underutilised”.

Furthermore, there’s “limited/no understanding of the delineating between the national park and the monastic site” and a “lack of adequate restroom facilities”. 

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It says: “Glendalough and Wicklow Mountains National Park is an obvious jewel in Wicklow’s tourism offering but at peak times the experience can be undermined by poor traffic and visitor management issues and the potential to maximise visitor spending and keep visitors in the region are often not maximised.”

It emphasises the importance of not having everyone visiting Glendalough and other parts of Wicklow Mountains National Park at the same time.

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“Improving the regional and seasonal spread of visitors is very important,” Fáilte Ireland said.

“Persuading more tourists to visit outside seasonal peaks and to visit areas outside of the main attractions will mitigate against regional and seasonal congestion and deliver a better experience for all.”

Those vying to create a masterplan for the region need to make recommendations for what elements of the visitor experience currently work well, what needs to be improved and how to create a “welcome and sense of arrival” in Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains National Park.

Additional entrances to the Wicklow Mountains Park should be explored, as well concept designs for how the visitor experience could be developed.

The project will see recommendations for how to access these attractions, including public transport, pedestrian access, bicycle, traffic management, parking, park and ride and transport links to provide connectivity.

It should also: “Identify what techniques could be developed to alleviate capacity issues at pressure points within Glendalough, Wicklow Mountains National Park and greater county Wicklow.”

The closing date for response to this tender is 29 May, with the project expected to last 26 weeks. 

About the author:

Sean Murray

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