O'DONNELL, V and O'MAHONY, C., 2011. Maintaining a Marine Leisure Industry in a Recession. In: Micallef, A. (ed.), MCRR3–2010 Conference Proceedings, Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue, No. 61, pp. 133–139. Grosseto, Tuscany, Italy, ISSN 0749–0208.
In 2008, a Marine Leisure Infrastructure Strategy for 719km of the West Cork coast in the south-west of Ireland was published (CMRC, 2008). At that time the new-found wealth of the Irish population put a demand on marine leisure infrastructure. The 2008 Strategy was commissioned to address the lack of leisure facilities by improving infrastructure in old fishing harbours and by developing slipways and associated facilities in popular holiday destinations in West Cork to augment the established services. In 2010, a Marine Leisure Infrastructure Strategy for the remaining coast of Cork (Figure 1 – 500km) was published (CMRC, 2010). This latest Strategy was developed in an economic climate which is radically different to that of 2008, when there was a proliferation of ‘cash-rich time-poor’ city dwellers and foreign tourists willing to spend money along the Irish Coast, and when there was funding available for capital projects through Government agencies, public private partnerships and private developers. Ireland is now one of the most indebted countries in the western world. Unemployment has risen from 4.3% in January 2005 to 12.7% in January 2010 (CSO, 2010) and for those still working, salaries have dropped in some cases by 15–20% leaving little in the way of disposable income to spend on leisure activities. With the aid of community funding schemes and stakeholder input from local and national organisations such as Cork County Council, Town Councils, Port Companies, Fállte Ireland (national tourism agency) and development partnerships/enterprise boards, the 2010 Strategy has put forward achievable milestones which will enable the coastal tourism industry to survive in one of the most difficult economic times. This ‘bottom-up’ approach can easily be replicated in other coastal areas where tourism is needed to supplement local economies but where necessary levels of investment are lacking.