Three blueways across counties Meath, Clare, Galway and Tipperary have become the first to be accredited.

The Boyne Blueway in Trim, Co Meath, the Suir Blueway in Tipperary and the Lough Derg Blueway are the experiences earmarked for this special status.

Fáilte Ireland said the accreditation means they are now considered world class destinations for water-based and water-side activities.

Blueways are a new outdoor recreation offering unique to Ireland.

They encourage the use of lakes, canals, rivers and coastal environments for walking, cycling, swimming, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding.

Fáilte Ireland research shows that 73% of domestic tourists engaged in outdoor activities, ranging from walking and hiking, to swimming, kayaking and canoeing, on their most recent overnight trip.

Local communities are expected to benefit from the initiative.

The blueway accreditation has been developed by Fáilte Ireland, Sport Ireland, Waterways Ireland, Sport Northern Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland.

Fáilte Ireland said the official accreditation will ensure all blueways will be developed to a consistent high standard from a technical and safety perspective and will deliver best-in-class sustainable visitor experiences.