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Fáilte Ireland Announces €27m in Funding for 22 Walking and Cycling Trails and Regional Tourism Upgrades

Fáilte Ireland has announced the first round of approved investment grants for projects under the EU Just Transition Fund which are being delivered as part of its Regenerative Tourism and Placemaking Scheme 2023-2026, co-funded by the Government and the EU.

A total of 22 projects have been approved for €27.1m investment under the scheme which include walking and cycling trails on former industrial peatlands, and investment in Local Authority and State Agency tourism and visitor experience projects.

Full details of the funding and projects can be viewed on www.failteireland.ie.

Further projects that are still in the evaluation pipeline are expected to be announced in the coming weeks and months. Projects span three development categories, including feasibility and masterplans; product design and planning; and delivery and construction.

Fáilte Ireland is also announcing the inclusion of up to 85 tourism enterprises in its EU Just Transition Digital Transformation Programme which is valued at up to €5.5m. A funding scheme for Private and Community SMEs to provide new and enhanced visitor experiences and low-carbon tourist accommodation remains open for expressions of interest until 30th June 2024, and announcements will be made on these awards later in the year.

Tourism Minister Catherine Martin said: “These projects mark the first steps in the regenerative tourism development journey in the Midlands, and we are pleased to work with our colleagues in the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications to deliver on government climate action goals through the EU Just Transition Fund.

“The projects funded support our move as a nation towards a low-carbon economy, in line with the Programme for Government commitment for the development of a Sustainable Tourism Policy, which will support sustainable economic development and job creation. We’re already seeing a significant impact in the Midlands as all counties within the region have been represented across these approved investments in projects, with more to come.”

Transport and Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said: “Today marks a significant milestone in the green transition as Fáilte Ireland announces the first projects under the EU Just Transition Fund Regenerative Tourism and Placemaking Scheme targeted at the Midlands Region. This initiative, co-funded by the Government and the European Union not only provides new employment and economic opportunities for communities and businesses in the Midlands but also helps protect biodiversity, supporting a greener, more sustainable, and low-carbon future. I look forward to the delivery of these projects and to their positive impact on the Midlands Region.”

Head of the European Commission Representation in Ireland Barbara Nolan added: “Ireland can be at the forefront of the EU’s efforts to diversify its economy towards greener and more progressive industries, helping to achieve the EU’s Green Deal goals. One of the objectives of the EU’s Just Transition Fund is to support Ireland’s Midlands to further develop the potential of the local economy. Investing in sustainable tourism will not only generate local jobs but is also a step further in positioning the Midlands as an attractive tourist destination in the heart of Ireland.”

Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly said: “Today, we are pleased to announce our initial investment grants for projects under our Regenerative Tourism and Placemaking scheme, which is just the beginning of our EU Just Transition journey for Ireland’s Midlands.

These transformative projects, spanning the entire region, will create more reasons for domestic and international tourists to visit Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and Ireland’s Ancient East, generating new opportunities for employment, empowering local businesses, and enhancing local communities, while strengthening the appeal of the Midlands as a tourist destination for generations to come. With further investment in projects to be announced over the coming months, this is a very exciting time for the Midlands.

“We look forward to further collaboration with local tourism businesses and communities, the Eastern and Midland Regional Authority (EMRA), Bord na Móna, Local Authorities, and our strategic partners including the Office of Public Works, the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage, Waterways Ireland, and Coillte to deliver these projects and more under this scheme across the next two years.”

Acting Director of the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly (EMRA) Clare Bannon said: “EMRA, as the Managing Authority of the EU Just Transition Fund programme, welcomes the announcement of this group of projects that underline the significant opportunities arising from investment in tourism for bolstering placemaking through enhanced amenities and capacity building. Tourism plays a pivotal role in diversifying income streams and enhancing employment prospects that are intricately tied to our local assets. By investing in tourism, we not only open doors to increased recreational activities but also contribute to the preservation of environmental quality, fostering sustainable growth and prosperity for our community.”

Geoff Percival
Geoff Percival
Geoff has worked in business, news, consumer and travel journalism for more than 25 years; having worked for and contributed to the likes of The Irish Examiner, Business & Finance, Business Plus, The Sunday Times, The Irish News, Senior Times, and The Sunday Tribune.
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