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European excellence award for great Greenway

European excellence award for superb Greenway

Áine Ryan

THE tourism potential of the Great Western Greenway received yet another boost last week when it was designated one of the great cycle trails of Europe. Along with 21 other destinations, it received the 2011 EDEN Award (European Destination of Excellence) ‘for exemplary regeneration and promotion’ of declining physical sites.
This follows an  award earlier this year, for the innovatiove project, which follows the old railway line to Achill. EDEN is an EU wide competition, which is designed to encourage and promote a more sustainable form of tourism development.
Responding to last week’s announcement, Mr Jim Higgins MEP said the Greenway was ‘a hidden gem in the west’.
“ I’m delighted to see the recognition of the Greenway as one of the best cycle tracks in Europe.  The EDEN award will hugely increase awareness of The Greenway by putting it on the world stage. It’s a great healthy day out for all the family and is a shining example of a highly successful project with a low budget.  This is exactly the kind of innovative thinking we need to get people active and to draw even more tourists to out beautiful country,” Mr Higgins said.
Commenting on the awards, Antonio Tajani, European Commission Vice-President in charge of Industry and Entrepreneurship said: “This year’s theme has seen some particularly outstanding examples of imaginative and unusual tourism concepts. In this fast-changing world economy, EDEN continues to highlight the best of Europe’s ingenuity and creativity in tourism. I am pleased with the excellent performance of the tourism industry in 2010 and 2011. To proceed further down this path we need to continue boosting innovation and quality. EDEN is a successful example.”
Earlier this year, after Mulranny Tourism Committee submitted an application to EDEN, the Greenway was also feted best Irish destination in the awards.
The Great Western Greenway offers 42 kilometres of breathtaking landscapes and seascapes, hugging the rugged Atlantic coastline of County Mayo. Notable landmarks that border the ex-railway line have now been regenerated and reopened, such as the famous Victorian Mulranny hotel.