New research suggests marine tourism could generate additional business during the off-season for counties along the west coast.

Studies carried out as part of the European Union's Moses Project suggest coastal tourism has the potential to attract people for longer stays, when specific offerings are in place.

Using the Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) as a research model, researchers from NUI Galway concluded that sustainable tourism in coastal areas could benefit the local economy, while ensuring that there was no adverse impact to the environment.

The Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit, which is based at the university, stresses that close collaboration with local communities is key to achieving the goal of sustainable tourism.

Its report says that with improved infrastructure and specific offerings outside the traditional holiday season, tourists could be attracted by new, sustainable visitor experiences.

Effectively this involves a balance between attracting tourism, without compromising the natural amenities in such locations.

Offerings like this are particularly suited to areas away from existing destinations on the Wild Atlantic Way.

They also reduce the attractiveness of day trips for visitors, which can divert spending to established tourist attractions.

The Northern and Western Regional Assembly, which covers eight counties in the area, supported the research project.

It says the development of niche attractions could boost sustainable investment, as well as helping to contribute to the low-carbon economy it envisages.

The Moses Project is part of a strategy to encourage growth in aquaculture, tourism, offshore energy, posts and fisheries, while ensuring any developments undertaken are environmentally friendly.

This research will be used to inform the development of tourist trails elsewhere in the EU.