Dunmore East Adventure Centre

Karen Harris along with her husband Gavin Sweeney and friend Rupert Musgrave, set up Dunmore East Adventure Centre over 20 years ago. Initially renting an old schoolhouse overlooking the harbour and later moving to the harbour itself operating out of a small prefabricated building. They started out providing kayaking, canoeing, archery and windsurfing and employed one seasonal part time instructor along with themselves. Today they employ 5 full time and 25 + part time seasonal instructors. Activities provided now are one of the most extensive offerings in Ireland. This year the Dunmore East Adventure Centre was voted the best school tour and best summer camp experience in Munster.

Dunmore East Adventure Centre

In February 2013, the promoters applied for funding under the Encouragement of Tourism Activity measure to enhance the existing adventure centre by providing new innovative activities that were not available in Ireland which included an aqua park, dry slope tubing and a team building zone. Further support was required to upgrade their water based activities by investing in kayaking equipment, personal wetsuits and flotation devices and to increase the rescue fleet in line with the above additional water based activities. Following funding approval in May, the promoters decided to substitute the dry slope tubing for an indoor caving system which was felt would extend the range of year round indoor activities which were proving a valuable source of revenue during the off season months.    The recent purchase of the former fisherman’s cooperative building close by which has been converted into an indoor climbing & activity centre with the water tower now used as an outdoor climbing tower incorporating the powerfan freefall device will accommodate the new caving system.

All the equipment had been procured through etenders and as a result an unknown supplier in Bulgaria for caving products proved more cost effective and offered a superior service over proven suppliers. Walltopia are tradionally climbing wall manufacturers and the promoters were unaware that they were branching out to include caving design as one of their new products. If it were not for the etender process, the promoters would never have made the connection with Walltopia.

The benefit of the investment has meant that Summer Camps are now run for 9 weeks in the summer while children are on their holidays in Dunmore East. The impact of this activity has hugely benefited the local shops, pubs and restaurants with an increase in tourism numbers during the summer months. The centre also caters for Stag & Hen parties throughout the year, bundling packages with self catering and guest houses during the off peak periods and using restaurants and pubs. Local transport is also arranged to bring visitors to Waterford to enjoy the City’s night life.

Karen said they "strive to employ as many local people as possible, peaking in the summer months when over 25 extra staff are drafted in to instruct the large volume of customers that the business now generates. A maintenance team is also on stand by to keep the premises in tip top shape as well as designing and building new activities".

With the 2016 season fast approaching, promoters already have plans to team up with a local teacher to provide an adventure based language school in Dunmore East, with teens staying with host families in the village.

Karen pointed out that a few of the challenges encountered included "the painstaking paperwork involved in the application process however on the upside it did put a focus and realism on the business. While the etender process was initially frustrating, the help line was excellent and very patient! We would not have discovered a suitable supplier if the etender process was not followed".

"Sourcing finance at the time was the biggest obstacle, but with concrete budgets and keeping a tight ship as regards to the business account, a very good relationship was drawn up with the bank to ensure bridging was obtained. We would have prefered to have funded the match funding with longer term loans as the bridging had to be paid back in a short time frame and put the business under a bit of pressure – however we persevered!"

The Dunmore East Adventure Centre is now one of the biggest adventure centres in the South of Ireland and has the most extensive range of both indoor and outdoor activity. But the promoters have not stopped there, they are already looking at new plans for 2016 to ensure that their centre continues to surprise and excite both repeat and new visitors to the area.

Further details can be found at: www.dunmoreadventure.com

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