The Cool Route project commenced its work in mid-2015, with grant assistance for the EU Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme. The project, led by the Hincks Centre for Entrepreneurship Excellence, at Cork Institute of Technology, had a clear objective of promoting marine tourism on coastlines between Cork in Southern Ireland and Tromsø in Norway, via the West of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, then Faroe Islands and Western Norway. EU projects always use acronyms for names and in this instance “Cool” set out to represent Cruising Oceans on Latitudes above 52° North. “Cool” however quickly built its own brand identity signifying pleasant summertime temperatures, pristine seas filled with dolphins , whales , seals and seabirds, tremendous scenery, amazing foods and last but not least very welcoming people .
It’s Cool in all aspects and in these times of soaring summer temperatures in Southern Europe, fresh cool air is something to be relished.
At the project inception stage, it was realised that there was a severe dearth of research and published data on the sailing sector. Scotland was the only territory with a body of good research completed on the sector, where Sail Scotland , which is the national sailing body had published a comprehensive report entitled “Awakening the Giant”, quantifying the value and growth potential of marine tourism to Scotland’s economy.
Cool Route, during its 3 years of project delivery, undertook a wide range of original research. Studying the preferences and needs of sailors, it produced a report setting out the need for dry step ashore facilities, by way of a marina or pontoon facility located every 25 nautical miles. The report demonstrated the need for toilet and shower facilities and highlighted the absence of recycling and waste disposal facilities in locations along the route. The project also developed a generic design for modular toilet and shower blocks, which could be dropped into remote locations and connected to existing waste treatment facilities or alternatively use natural process for composting and treating effluents.
The Cool Route firstly undertook a survey of over 500 cruising sailors to determine their preferences and needs. completed a very comprehensive survey and audit of every pontoon and maria facility over almost 2,000 miles of coastlines and then developed an online information and booking system, linked to every facility and also permitting local enterprises to list their products and services on offer. This brought in new areas of interest to the route and in particular Small liners and superyachts, which would also avail of the daisy chain of marinas and pontoons to land passengers, in beautiful remote locations throughout the Cool Route.
The Cool Route has a unique history and wealthy heritage in seas traveled by Saints and Vikings, where over 1,500 years ago voyages on the route were recorded. No other sea route globally has such a rich history and many of its ancient sites can still be seen and visited. This led to the Cool Route being named in 2017 as the “World’s Most adventurous Cruising Route”, by Yachting International, which is recognised as being among the most prestigious of global sailing magazines.
The project also developed a very attractive set of social media and also published a marketing plan, emphasising the role of destinations to organise events and activities to attract marine visitors. The Cool Route Logo and brand was also registered as a European Trademark.
The Cool Route received many accolades, the most significant being award the 2018 Atlantic Area Award for Sustainability. The Cool Route brand is now closely associated with promoting greater sailing and cruising activities on these highly attractive coastlines, while also promoting sustainability and environmental protection.
When the formal project came to an end in June 2018, having run its 36 month terms, a number of partners under the continuing lead of CIT , continued to operate the project website www.sailcoolroute.eu its Facebook , Twitter sites and the Cool Route Information and Booking system. All of the project studies and reports are available free of charge from the Studies and Reports section of its website.
An important aspect of the project brief was Cool Route realisation, meaning that the work of the project would be realised or brought beyond the project stage to a self- sustaining product addressing its original objectives to bring new sustainable business opportunities to enterprises along its extensive shorelines.
Cool Route has now concluded negotiations with Marine Blast Scotland on a non- exclusive licensing of the brand and shared use of social media and the Route Information and Booking System. Marine Blast has co-operated with Sailing Scotland and Sailing and Cruising Scotland, mainly on a pro bono basis, promoting objectives very similar to Cool Route. It also has provided services to the Malin Waters cruising grounds of County Donegal and Northern Ireland. The combined social media followings of Cool Route and Marine Blast Cruising Scotland will place it among the largest web presences for Marine Tourism in the EU.