Neglected river area in need of £3million overhaul to boost tourism, report says

A new report into the tourism potential of the River Blackwater across Co Tyrone and Co Armagh has said almost £3million in funding is needed to boost the area.

The feasibility study commissioned by Mid Ulster Council outlines a series of measures to boost water-based tourism around the river.

Referring to it as ‘one of the most underutilised inland waterway opportunities in Northern Ireland’, the study recommends the upgrade and building of a number of jetties, car parks and campsites.

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Among the recommendations are new jetties and berthing facilities at Coalisland Point and in the Moy, at an estimated cost of around £490,000 each.

The report also suggests the potential for new river-inspired visitor experiences such as watersports and food festivals.

It is hoped that the investment would bring around £280,000 per year to the local economy.

With the river area covering both Mid Ulster and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon councils, the total cost across each area to carry out the recommendations of the report is £1.3m and £1.6m respectively.

The report says: “The River Blackwater is one of the most underutilised inland waterway tourism opportunities in Northern Ireland.

“It has without doubt been neglected and forgotten about and its entrance is now totally silted up and cannot be accessed by boat.

“Through commissioning this report, MUDC has recognised the past neglect, present needs and future untapped potential of the river and has now been working closely with DFI, other departments and council partners to address these problems and hopefully open up the river to new safe boating and expanding economic opportunities.”

Chair of the council’s Development committee, Dominic Molloy, welcomed the report and said the area has huge potential in terms of tourism, adding that a working group will be set up between the two councils to brig forward the recommendations of the report.

“It recognises the potential in terms of unlocking that tourism from the Lough,” Cllr Molloy said.

“The likes of the Moy and Blackwatertown would definitely benefit from it.

“I had originally proposed that we consider the potential of the river and so at a personal level I am very pleased to see the report published and accepted by the Committee and I look forward to seeing work develop further.”

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BelfastLive – Co Tyrone