Towns into destinations: €15.5m to be distributed to two towns in each county for public art, signage & other tourist amenities

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  • Investment opportunities for two towns in each county
  • paces for food and craft markets,
  • areas for town centre events,
  • public art
  • orientation and signage

Paul Kelly CEO of Failte Ireland

Fáilte Ireland ’s latest investment of €15.5m in Irish towns will be funded through the local authorities to help evolve 62 unidentified towns across the country into tourist destinations.

The scheme, announced in the Gibson hotel in Dublin this morning, Wednesday March 27, furthers a four year process of bringing local authorities into the development of tourism.

Local authorities were invited to bid for funding of between €250,000 and €500,000 to to enhance public spaces such as squares, streetscapes and markets in two towns per area which have the potential to become a destination town for tourist

Development could include spaces for food and craft markets, areas for town centre events, public art displays as well as orientation and signage to help visitors explore a town’s local heritage. Councils will be expected to identify towns that have:

  • At least one visitor attraction of scale that can drive tourism demand.
  • A portfolio of activities to fill two days to attract overnight visitors with a variety of attractions, activities and entertainment options which can keep tourists engaged for more than 11 hours a day, including three hours in the evening.
  • Accommodation stock of at least 300 beds to become a seasonal destination town (and 1,000 beds to operate as a year-round destination) or be a town that has the potential to grow its bedstock in the future.
  • A range of food offerings including a light snacks, tea/coffee, lunch and dinner.

The scheme will officially open in April for applications from Local Authorities and will close in September. 

In order to support communities and Local Authorities with their applications, Fáilte Ireland has established Development Guidelines for Tourism Destination Towns to provide a framework for applications, set out the key drivers of what makes a town appealing to the international tourist, and act as a practical aid to Local Authorities, Chambers of Commerce, LEADER Programme Local Action Groups and other business and community groups. The guidelines can also be used by smaller towns and villages with the potential to further develop as day trip destinations.

Fáilte Ireland’s regional teams will work with each Local Authority to identify towns which have the potential to grow their tourism economy. They will then assess the development need using the Destination Town Framework and the town’s potential to drive a greater regional and seasonal spread of tourism.

Minister Brendan Griffin made the announcement at an event in Dublin where officials from all local authorities gathered to be briefed on the new investment scheme. The Fáilte Ireland scheme is part of the National Tourism Development Authority’s work to drive a better regional spread of overseas and domestic visitors and spend.

Brendan Griffin said: Fáilte Ireland’s new investment scheme will provide a significant boost for towns across the country with untapped tourism potential. This scheme is a great opportunity for towns which aren’t fully active in the tourism industry to look at how their local economy can benefit from increased tourism activity as well as the physical development the scheme will bring. I am pleased to see Fáilte Ireland working closely with local communities, councils and businesses to create a better regional spread of visitors and revenue, and today’s funding announcement marks a real step-change in the way we look at towns as drivers of tourism.”

Fáilte Ireland’s CEO Paul Kelly said: The importance of tourism as an economic driver and source of employment cannot be underestimated. It is a unique industry in terms of its ability to spur local job creation and sustain rural communities. That is why, at Fáilte Ireland, everything we do is underpinned by two strategic pillars – spreading tourism across a wider geography and creating a broader tourism season so businesses can remain open for longer. We look for every opportunity to expand the number of appealing destinations that offer compelling visitor experiences with the potential to drive visitors across the regions.  Our new investment scheme will provide local authorities with a springboard to develop towns with untapped potential from transit zones to destinations where visitors want to stay longer and experience local culture.”

Ann Doherty, Chair of the County and City Management Association EECC Committee said: The concept behind Destination Towns goes to the heart of what the local authorities are about: making great places to live, work and visit. The initiative provides a really practical focus to help us to plan strategically for the infrastructure, attractions and public realm improvements that will appeal to visitors and unlock or enhance our tourism offering, including in collaboration with local business and communities.”

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