Center Parcs 'to create 1,000 jobs'
The planned Center Parcs holiday resort in Longford will create 1,000 jobs, the company has said.
The new 200 million euro village on 375 acres of forest at Newcastle Wood, five kilometres from Ballymahon, is expected to open in 2019.
Another 750 construction jobs will be created to get the site ready and build the resort. Once open it will be the first of its kind in Ireland and have capacity for up to 2,500 guests.
Center Parcs said the Longford resort, which is being built on Coillte forestry and will go through the planning system, will include up to 500 lodges catering for families.
It will also house more than 100 indoor and outdoor activities, a spa, restaurants and cafes and the company's subtropical swimming area.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny attended the launch in Longford, a county hit hard by unemployment in the recession and in parts blighted by ghost estates.
"Center Parcs will provide a massive boost to the area and contribute significantly to the local and regional economy," he said.
Center Parcs opened its fifth holiday village in the UK last summer with a £250 million resort in Woburn Forest, Bedfordshire, catering for around 350,000 guests a year.
In 2013 the holiday company had 1.7 million guests at four parks - Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, Elveden Forest, near Brandon in Suffolk, Longleat Forest near Warminster in Wiltshire, and Whinfell Forest near Penrith, Cumbria.
Center Parcs is owned by asset management firm Blackstone. The company also claims it has a 28 year proven track record of taking ecologically poor areas of woodland and transforming them into areas rich in biodiversity. Martin Dalby, chief executive of Center Parcs, said: "We are thrilled and excited about the prospect of bringing the Center Parcs concept to families in Ireland.
"This new Center Parcs will have all of the ingredients that have made us so popular with families in the UK for the last 28 years and I am certain that Center Parcs will be a great success in Longford."