Provide a description of your Tourism offering.
Castle Archdale Boat Hire & Watersports is a family business based in Fermanagh and was founded 20 years ago. It is now run by three brothers – Peter, Jonathan and Stuart Bradshaw, the business started off initially as just Boat Hire but in later years it developed with the addition of water sport activities and in 2021 Erne Adventures was launched in Enniskillen.
With the help of the Tourism Northern Ireland ‘Experience Development Programme’ we successfully received funding of £75,000 this year. The financial support funded an additional 50 hydrobikes which now gives us a total of 60 hydrobikes. Our business has now grown to provide more choice for customers, cater for older people and those not as keen on water activities. The bikes have provided a unique experience for the entire family to get involved.
With the bikes we have now added a new ‘Hydrobikes by Light Experience’ where visitors can explore Enniskillen - the Island Town by Light. The water experience allows visitors to see Enniskillen from a completely different perspective at night and extend the tourism season.
Describe how the Summer 2021 season has been for your business?
Summer 2021 has been exceptional for the business, which is quite extraordinary considering we are in a pandemic and continue to follow Covid-19 regulations.
Due to the nature of the business, innovation and financial support, we were able to adapt the business, overcome challenges and grow.
We do believe the ‘Staycation Campaign’ by Tourism bodies has really benefited us and helped our business survive the pandemic. Our footfall has increased significantly and our brand has been exposed across the island of Ireland. With these opportunities and financial marketing support from Northern Ireland Hotels Federation visitors want to explore Fermanagh and experience a variety of water activities with us on the beautiful Lough Erne.
List five things that were different for you in the high season post covid pandemic.
1) The main one for us was adapting to the growth of our business which happened quite quickly.
2) Increase in staff - we went from ten to twenty eight employees. From this we have been able to offer two full time and a number of part time posts.
3) With more staff and ensuring a covid safe environment more time was invested into staff training and incentives to receive both doses of the vaccine ahead of our busy season.
4) ‘Pingdemic’ was an issue during our high season which was difficult at times but was overcome by dedicated staff stepping in to cover when needed.
5) Feeling of hope for the future of the business not just to survive but to grow.
Based on these experiences, what have you learned to do differently?
Invest time into exploring all the business support opportunities out there, as we have learned they really can take your business to the next level.
What are your hopes for 2022?
We hope that the Staycation message will remain strong, and people will continue to try new experiences and return again in the future. We are also innovating so watch this space.