The first three Blueways in the world to achieve accreditation officially opened this week at the Boyne Blueway, Suir Blueway Tipperary and Lough Derg Blueway.

Blueways are a brand-new outdoor recreation offering currently unique to Ireland. They encourage the use of lakes, canals, rivers and coastal environments for walking, cycling, swimming, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding while engaging with nature and heritage.

Fáilte Ireland research shows that 73%* of domestic tourists engaged in outdoor activities, ranging from walking and hiking, to swimming, kayaking and canoeing, on their most recent overnight trip. The official accreditation of Blueways responds to this growing public demand for quality outdoor infrastructure close to water and nature and it will ensure Blueways will be a magnet for visitors and local residents seeking high-quality experiences.

The Blueway accreditation has been developed by Fáilte Ireland, Sport Ireland, Waterways Ireland, Sport Northern Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland. An official accreditation will ensure all Blueways will be developed to a consistent high standard from a technical and safety perspective and will deliver best in class sustainable visitor experiences.

George Lucas, Chair Sport NI said:

“During the COVID-19 pandemic many people rediscovered their local areas, reconnecting with nature and the outdoors and the wide range of outdoor recreation activities available on their doorsteps, from outdoor swimming and kayaking to walking and cycling. At Sport NI we believe in the power of sport to change lives and we are committed to encouraging more people to take part in sport and physical activity. We are delighted to link up with our partners in sport and tourism, both north and south of the border, for this Blueway initiative, ensuring the provision of safe and sustainable access to water and land-based trails.”