Failte Ireland has been accused of “using and abusing” Malin Head to promote the Wild Atlantic Way while failing to invest a “single cent” in the location.
Councillor Martin McDermott hit out as he revealed that promised investment in a car park and toilet block near Banba’s Crown has now been delayed pending design plans for a proposed visitors’ centre at the location.
This is despite the fact that Donegal County Council granted planning permission for the car park and toilets- phase two of major development at Malin Head- a number of months ago.
Colr McDermott said Failte Ireland suggested this permission was required before they could release the 520,000 euro needed for phase two.
He said: “They’re now telling us they can’t do that until we have the design plans for phase three - the visitors’ centre. That’s going to take at least a year. I am beyond frustrated. This isn’t just about promoting Malin Head, it’s about investment for all of Inishowen.
“Failte Ireland and these tourism operators can’t keep doing what they’re doing - using Malin Head as a key location to sell the Wild Atlantic Way while not investing one cent in it. They need to put their money where their mouth is. Other locations across the country are receiving investment.”
Thousands of visitors have flocked to Malin Head in recent weeks due to a number of factors including further sightings of dolphins and basking sharks along its coast.
However, there has been ‘traffic gridlock’ at Banba’s Crown on many occasions, with some visitors forced to turn back due to a lack of parking. Donegal County Council recently installed two portable toilets at the location.
Colr McDermott said there was a ‘window of opportunity’ to enhance tourism in Inishowen which will be lost if there is a continued lack of investment.
He said: “If someone goes up there and has to turn back, they’re not going to return. 200,000 people visit Malin Head every year - can you imagine how many would be there if there were proper facilities? Malin Head is an easy sell, everyone knows it and Failte Ireland know this. But they can’t keep using and abusing that while not investing in it.
“I’m really struggling to see why nothing has been done. I must stress this isn’t the Donegal office - it’s the national office. At this stage we’re just asking for basic facilities and this needs to happen right away. Inishowen can’t lose this opportunity.”
Meanwhile, visitor numbers are up across the entire peninsula.