Fermanagh Area Plan 2007
The variety and quality of landscapes in Fermanagh make it a major destination for domestic and international tourists.
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board estimate that tourism spending in Fermanagh during 1995 was £18.2m making it a significant contributor to the local economy.
The principal tourist attraction in the District is Lough Erne, comprising two large loughs joined by a network of channels and small loughs. Since the reconstruction of the Ballinamore/Ballyconnell Canal in 1994 it is part of one of the most extensive inland waterways inWestern Europe.The outstanding lakeland scenery is internationally renowned and attracts both shore and water based visitors to Fermanagh.
The islands and lough shores are rich in heritage interest particularly of the Early Christian period; most noteworthy are the monastic remains and round tower on Devenish Island, Inishmacsaint and the carved figures onWhite Island. Castles from the Plantation period; Crom, Castle Caldwell,Tully and Castle Archdale, are also a feature of the lough shores. Enniskillen Castle is a major landmark on the Erne in the centre of the town.The District also has a wealth of archaeological sites and monuments.
The wildlife of the loughs, islands, shores and wetland areas is of national and international importance and many visitors are attracted to the area to enjoy the nature conservation interest.
Water based recreation is enjoyed by many visitors to the area who participate in a variety of activities, including sailing, windsurfing, water skiing, fishing and cruising.The hire cruiser fleet, currently numbering over 100 boats and attracting large numbers of European visitors, has increased since the opening of the Shannon/Erne waterway in May 1994. Fermanagh is one of the best angling areas in Europe and frequently hosts international festivals; the Upper Lough is particularly important for coarse fishing and the Lower Lough for game fishing. Lough Melvin and Lough Macnean in West Fermanagh are also well known for angling.
Other attractions in the area include the Marble Arch Caves, part of the limestone caveland scenery of the south west of the District which has potential to generate more tourism activity based on caving and the specialist geological interest.
Other heritage attractions include Belleek Pottery which attracted 185,800 visitors in 1995.There are three National Trust properties, at Castlecoole, Florencecourt and Crom. The District also has popular forest parks at Castle Archdale, Ely, Lough Navar and Castle Caldwell as well as Castle Archdale Country Park.
Tourism is an important sector of the local economy and has potential for substantial future growth. It is particularly suitable for farm diversification enterprises.The opportunity exists to develop a tourism based economy in which conservation management is an integral concern. Fermanagh also presents an ideal opportunity for the marketing of "green" tourism relying on the countryside together with the peace and tranquillity of the rural area, a fact confirmed by recent market research. It is critical therefore that future development of the tourism industry is carried out in a manner which does not alter this image.
The Northern Ireland Tourist Board document "Tourism in Northern Ireland - a Sustainable Approach" sets out the principles of sustainable tourism which involve using "resources in ways which do not deprive future generations of their availability or their benefits.An important fact is that sustainability need not be at odds with economic growth as long as that growth is not achieved at the expense of the environment". These principles will be applied by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board in assessing proposals for tourism development throughout Northern Ireland.
The promotion of tourism is the responsibility of Fermanagh District Council.The Council, in addition to marketing tourism, is also primarily responsible for the initiation and implementation of major tourism developments e.g. the Ulster Lakeland Equestrian Park at Necarne Castle.Additional proposals include Cuilcagh Natural History Park, a wildfowl reserve at Lough Head Lisnaskea, a canoe trail linking Lough Erne and Lough Macnean and a Cultural Heritage Trail involving the careful enhancement of a number of sites of archaeological or historical interest throughout the District.
- To promote the development of a sustainable tourism industry for the long-term economic benefit of Fermanagh and its people.
- To ensure that new tourism developments respect the quality of Fermanagh's landscapes, natural environment and manmade heritage.
- To ensure that resources exploited for tourism are properly managed and conserved for the sake of future generations.
- To provide strategic guidance on the nature, scale and location of acceptable development proposals along the Lough Erne Shoreline and its immediate hinterland.
The Department's Strategic and Regional Planning Policies for Tourism are currently contained in "A Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland" published in September 1993.