A major investment of €73m to develop four new world-class Irish tourist attractions are tipped to generate 8,000 new jobs and €290m of visitor revenues.

The large-scale tourist attractions awarded funding are in Cavan, Donegal, Dublin and Mayo.

Fáilte Ireland is investing €44.3m of the total €73m investment in what Minster for Tourism Catherine Martin, TD, is describing as “the most significant investment in visitor attractions ever undertaken by Fáilte Ireland that will have far-reaching national and regional economic benefits.”

“This investment in creative and impactful large-scale visitor experiences is critical to strengthening Ireland’s reputation internationally as a must-visit holiday destination and provides a catalyst for further innovation in the tourism sector”

It is envisaged that up to 8,000 direct and indirect jobs are set to be created as a result of the investment and €290m generated from domestic and international visitors over 10 years.

Fáilte Ireland’s economic analysis states every €1m spent by tourists helps to supports 27 jobs in the Irish tourism sector.

The investment is the culmination of a highly competitive application process which began in 2019 and includes a total match funding of €29m from public and private project partners bringing the total investment to €73m.

Platforms for Growth

Under Fáilte Ireland’s Platforms for Growth Investment Grants Scheme for Immersive Heritage and Cultural Attraction plan, the four new and strategically important large-scale visitor attractions will unlock regional dispersal of visitors and extend the tourism season in these regions beyond the traditional summer months. 

The successful projects will cater for all tastes. They range from a UNESCO Global Geopark in the border county of Cavan to a Fort perched on a hilltop in Donegal overlooking the Wild Atlantic Way; and from a state-of-the-art flight simulator in the centre of Dublin to the reimagining and rewilding of a vast estate in Mayo offering uplifting nature-based experiences on the west coast of Ireland.

“Today’s significant funding announcement will ensure world-class visitor attractions are created that will attract domestic and international tourists to the four locations which will not just benefit the counties where they’re located but will motivate people to stay longer and explore more widely across the region,” said Minister Martin.

“This investment in creative and impactful large-scale visitor experiences is critical to strengthening Ireland’s reputation internationally as a must-visit holiday destination and provides a catalyst for further innovation in the tourism sector. This is the most significant investment in visitor attractions ever undertaken by Fáilte Ireland that will have far-reaching national and regional economic benefits.”

The attractions that have been offered Fáilte Ireland investment funding are:

  • Shannon Pot & Cavan Burren Park, Blacklion, Co. Cavan – €4.8m Fáilte Ireland investment
  • Fort Dunree & Head, Buncrana, Co. Donegal – €9.3m Fáilte Ireland investment
  • ‘This is Ireland’ North City Centre, Dublin 1 – €10m Fáilte Ireland investment
  • Westport House Estate & Gardens, Westport, Co. Mayo – €20.2m Fáilte Ireland investment 

“Driving regional tourism growth has always been a key priority for Fáilte Ireland but it is now more important than ever as we rebuild the sector and recover from the devastation of Covid-19,” said Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly.

Platforms for Growth (PFG) is one of a number of investment mechanisms that Fáilte Ireland has developed in recent years to drive sustainable development of the tourism sector leading to job creation and revenue growth. PFG is funded under the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 strategy.

“The aim of the Platforms for Growth 1 funding scheme is to grow Ireland’s stock of large-scale visitor attractions to appeal to both domestic and international visitors. The standard of applications received for this Scheme was incredibly high and we are encouraged by the level of innovation and creativity demonstrated. The four awarded projects are truly best-in-class. They are diverse, engaging and unique and will help visitors connect with Ireland and bring the country’s vibrant culture, heritage and people to life,” Kelly said.

Main image at top: Aerial view of Fort Dunree, Inishowen Peninsula – County Donegal via Lukassek/Shutterstock

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 11 June 2021