Kiltimagh looks set to get a tourism product which could attract up to 30,000 visitors annually to the east Mayo town.
The town has been earmarked for a velorail, a type of cycling attraction along 12 kilometres of disused railway track, in the draft version of Mayo County Council’s new five-year tourism strategy.
Padraig Philbin, a senior executive engineer in Mayo County Council’s enterprise and investment unit, said the velorail would be the only one of its kind in Ireland and the UK.
Velorails are hugely popular attractions in France and other parts of mainland Europe.
The leisure attraction involves the use of a pedal powered carriage which can run along a railway track.
Mr Philbin said current indications suggest the velorail could be open for business as early as summer 2016.
“The community in Kiltimagh came to us with this idea during the public consultation process for the tourism strategy,” explained Mr Philbin.
“This would be unique for Ireland and the UK. Quite a lot of groundwork has already been done for the project and it could be up and running within 12 to 24 months - ideally, summer 2016.”
Mr Philbin said putting a tourism product in place, such as the velorail, would act as a platform for other small tourism industries to develop in the town.
“Look at the Greenway,” he pointed out. “That was the first of its kind in Ireland and look at the effect that has had in those communities in a short space of time. We hope to see the velorail replicate some of that success.”
Mr Philbin said the velorail could attract between 20,000 and 30,000 visitors annually.
The Mayo Investment and Enterprise Unit, headed by Joanne Grehan, has been working for the last 12 months to develop a hugely ambitious five-year tourism strategy.
The strategy aims to increase considerably visitor numbers to Mayo by 2020 and build on that growth in the long-term to position the county as the number visitor destination in Ireland.
Mr Philbin said the strategy aims to spread the benefits of tourism to every corner of Mayo and developing key projects such as the velorail in east Mayo to encourage visitors to travel throughout the county is one way of doing that.