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Careers About
Services Projects 29 Insights 46 Podcasts 17 Careers About
Cross-Border Regenerative Tourism Feasibility Study
Strategy & Consulting
Donegal County Council and Fermanagh & Omagh District Council
TOPOSOPHY led the delivery of a unique, regeneration-focused feasibility study to develop a cross-border sustainable trails project in the picturesque rural border region of North West Ireland. This impactful, locally inspired project was one of five commissions delivered by TOPOSOPHY on the island of Ireland throughout 2023. Guided by regenerative tourism principles, our multidisciplinary team delivered RIBA Stage II plans and Business Case for what will be a transformational cross-border recreation proposition for visitors and locals in the region.
The Aim

Commissioned by Donegal County Council in the Republic of Ireland and Fermanagh & Omagh District Council in Northern Ireland, this project was funded through the Irish Government's  Shared Island Investment Scheme, which aims to create a more prosperous, connected and sustainable island. From the outset, both local authorities envisaged that this regenerative tourism project, based on the development of recreational trails, would act as a key catalyst for positive economic, social and environmental change in the border region. 

Objective 01

To undertake scoping assessment for the cross-border region to include a comprehensive destination audit, extensive stakeholder engagement and identification of capital works. 

Objective 02

To present draft (long-list) options and scoring matrix framework to identify a ‘Preferred Option’ which would then be developed further to take forward to Business Case stage.

Objective 03

To conduct an in-depth Economic Appraisal and develop an Outline Business Case with guidance on aligned tourism cluster development and regional destination marketing. 


TOPOSOPHY’s approach for this Regenerative Tourism project was to take a fresh perspective look at the issues, challenges and opportunities for the cross-border region. We wanted to reach out to and connect with tourism and hospitality operators on both sides of the border but also local residents, businesses and organisations who hadn’t previously engaged with regeneration consultations and initiatives such as this. Ultimately, we were guided by the principle that tourism happens within a dynamic ecosystem of ‘place’ and that any proposed project needed to come from local people and genuinely benefit the whole place, its people and its nature. 

Key element 01

We conducted a comprehensive destination audit of 13 towns and villages, assessing how the destination is both connected and presented at key visitor touch points.

Key element 02

We conducted 8 phased stakeholder workshops with approximately 100 local residents, businesses, public officials and elected representatives participating in the process. 

Key element 03

We presented a long list of 3 broad trails development recommendations, each of which would bring significant value to the tourism offering across the region. 

Key element 04

We conducted an Economic Appraisal of the Preferred Option and outlined a phased delivery approach for both local authorities to take forward to capital development stage. 


Through this project, TOPOSOPHY and our project partners presented the proposed development of the following:


An 18km multi-use recreational trail linking Ballyshannon in County Donegal (Republic of Ireland) to Castle Caldwell in County Fermanagh (Northern Ireland)


A phased development plan with staged option recommendations ranging from 3.5 Million to 6.5 Million Euros


An opportunity to champion the principles of Shared Island by actively promoting cross-border recreation opportunities in the Knader Forest and Castle Caldwell


A recreational connection between the regional visitor hubs of Ballyshannon on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way to Belleek in the Fermanagh Lakelands to create a nature-based destination proposition for the cross-border region


A catalyst and mechanism to inform and educate visitors and locals on the importance of landscape protection and destination stewardship


An important cross-border partnership between the local authorities, community / civil society organisations and private-sector tourism and hospitality businesses in the region


An enabler to further develop and promote the shared natural, built, social and cultural heritage of the cross-border region

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our multidisciplinary team - Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland, The Tourism Space and Cogent Management Consulting, for helping us deliver this impactful feasibility study and we are excited to see the transformational project come to fruition in this cross-border region in the years to come.

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