By @SimonCocking

Cool Route Map

Map of proposed COOL route for  Ireland and north-western Europe

Interview with John McCleer @JEMcAleer, who is a sailor, walker, entrepreneur, European funding expert, currently assisting on  @eucoolroute and other international projects.

DK15042015 CoolRoute 029

What the Cool Route is? Why can it be a potential big success?

The COOL Route @eucoolroute ~ Cruising Oceans On Latitudes above 51° North~ Co-financed under the Interreg VB Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme, commenced in April 2015. The project, which runs to March 2018, will investigate all of the logistical, marketing and business development aspects of promoting a bi-directional yacht cruising route between Cork in Southern Ireland, via Western and Northern Ireland, Western Scotland and the Faroe Islands to Tromsø in Western Norway.

The key objectives of the project are on marketing this route globally and through wide stakeholder engagements – to sustain existing enterprises in peripheral coastal areas, while also assisting and encouraging the development of new business opportunities.  These enterprises may be offering direct maritime related services or complementing activities in catering, tourism or other wide ranging recreational fields.

The project will also address the future legacy of its work, by ensuring that the COOL Route continues as a viable self-financing economic entity, following the completion of the project.

The route has significant potential for success mainly because of the outstanding natural beauty of the route, coupled with the wide range of tourism related activities along the participating coastlines.

While any well founded cruising yacht can follow the Cool route or parts of it, it is felt that if the route is marketed also globally to superyachts , which can be anything up to 250 feet or more, there is a substantial business opportunity to attract these types of vessels, which traditionally tend to move between the Caribbean, Aegean  and Mediterranean  seas as their cruising grounds.

These yachts which use c.400 litres of diesel an hour can cost anything up to €13 million a year to run. The visit of a high spending  yacht to a remote location is potentially y worth more to the local economy that all other visitors combined.  The Cool Route has an immense potential to offer highly interesting cruises to both large and small yachts. The coastlines from Southern Ireland to Norway and full of spectacular locations in terms of history, culture, food, wildlife and activities ranging from Kayaking to Mountain climbing.  The route is extremely secure, which is now of  growing   importance to long distance travellers, many of whom are tiring of seeing the same sun-based locations repeatedly.

There is already international interest being expressed in what the Cool Route can offer by way of totally new experiences.

How you are using social media to develop the project?

The project is at a very early stage and we are currently working on  developing a specification for two websites  which will be the project website and which will the route website. In the meantime Twitter is being used to publicise the development of the route. Twitter is an excellent tool to spread the message to future stakeholders that the route is being developed. The project is using #eucoolroute and is beginning to target operators such as marina owners, local harbours , tourism operators in the catering and activity holiday fields,  as well as sailing publications and journalists.

Within the first week of operations, we have attracted significant interest in County Cork, where the twitter campaign is currently focussed, we will over the next weeks target potential stakeholders throughout  the route. The current motive is just to build awareness. In the course of the project we will be undertaking much more focussed engagements with all stakeholders.

Wild Atlantic Way has successfully used explainer videos, active twitter account and slick modern designed website – what aspects of their success will you be drawing on ?

The Wild Atlantic Way and the Cool Route within Ireland share a high potential to strongly reinforce one another. Yacht Cruising tends to focus more on the en-route stops than on the actual journey.

Therefore, what makes the Wild Atlantic Way so attractive is also the selling point for the Cool Route,  it’s just a different mode of travel.  Scottish Tourism Authorities are also keen to engage for the same reasons and the attractiveness of Western Scotland is very well known.  The Faroe Island and Western Norway are also very spectacular locations and viewing these areas from the sea opens up terrific new perspectives.

While the project website will be online shortly, this being addressed by Donegal County Council and Derry City Council will be developing the commercial site and we do not envisage this being finalised for perhaps 24 months,  allowing a detailed investigation and consideration of what new technologies can be employed for use on what we expect to be a highly interactive website.

We think that the Cool Route commercial website, which at this stage is planned to have very wide booking abilities and also a resource for customer feedbacks and endorsements, will be highly visual and will in particular drill down to individual locations, covering everything available to see and do- and no doubt eat and drink!

In what ways will you look to follow your own path and strategies?

The European funding under the Northern Peripheral and Arctic (NPA) Programme , totalling  €1.26 million, was awarded on the basis of transnational cooperation and collaboration between all partners and associate partners to develop and agree a transnational strategy for the development of the route. The major focus of the funding is on supporting SMEs in the coastal areas of the NPA zone to identify and build new economic opportunities in these areas.  Over the next 3 years, a very wide international stakeholder engagement will take place and the project partners will be giving  very careful consideration as how best to address the objectives.  This will no doubt involve close collaboration with existing initiatives and building innovative strategies of our own.

Have any other successful marketing campaigns provided inspiration for your campaign?

Again, we are only at the starting line in terms of how our marketing campaign which will be led by the Royal Cork Yacht Club ,will be designed and rolled out, however we can already see good examples in terms of the Wild Atlantic Way, the Sail Scotland and campaign to develop cruising based tourism in Scotland and the work already undertaken by our Norwegian Partners western Borway research Institute in the potential for rural tourism to boost local economies in peripheral areas of Norway.

What happens next, when will it become active?

As I mentioned above we are working on the specifications at present , looking a t best practices and moving towards  the design of the suite of web-based tools.

What tech tools do you use to help you in your work / fun?

We will use all technologies available to us and if anyone wants to suggest a pilot trial of a new technologies-please feel free.

What is the Hincks Centre of Excellence in Entrepreneurship?

The Hincks Centre for Entrepreneurship Excellence was established by Cork Institute of Technology in 2013 to support entrepreneurship in all its forms.  The mission is to promote and provide entrepreneurship training, education and support to all stakeholder groups who support and nurture entrepreneurship.  The Centre’s activities fall under training, education and research. The Hincks Centre provides relevant and practical training and educational support to all involved in stimulating and supporting entrepreneurs.  This encompasses all aspects of design, development, delivery, validation and evaluation of programmes and modules.   In terms of research, the Hincks Centre aims to stimulate research in all aspects of enterprise and entrepreneurship development. Its scope covers a variety of contexts: start-ups, micro, small and large businesses, not for profits, corporate and family businesses, educators, students and the public sector. The objective of the research activity is to further our understanding of how entrepreneurship contributes to economic growth, competitiveness and social wellbeing, and underpins the entrepreneurship training and education activities of the Centre.

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