New employment opportunities for communities previously dependent on peat – counties Laois, Westmeath, Offaly, Longford, Roscommon, Galway, Tipperary and Kildare to benefit.
Tourism across eight counties in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and Ireland’s Ancient East is to be transformed through a regenerative tourism scheme.
Counties Laois, Westmeath, Offaly, Longford, Roscommon, Galway, Tipperary and Kildare, whose local economies were dependent on peat production, are to benefit from the scheme.
“It is an unprecedented investment in tourism, and one that is going to have a tangible economic impact in the towns and communities of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and Ireland’s Ancient East”
€68m has been allocated to Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, to implement a Regenerative Tourism & Placemaking Scheme for Ireland’s Midlands.
Revitalising the environment and local economies
The focus of the scheme is to provide new employment opportunities for workers and communities that were heavily dependent on peat by diversifying the local economy, which will include new opportunities for tourism.
“This investment reinforces the value of tourism to the economic well-being and development of a destination,” said CEO of Fáilte Ireland Paul Kelly.
“I want to pay tribute to the cross-functional team in Fáilte Ireland who have been working tirelessly over a number of months on designing and developing our successful submission to the EU. The confirmation today of the EU allocation to Fáilte Ireland is a testament to the team’s hard work and vision.
“It is also a recognition of our expertise as the National Tourism Development Authority to deliver projects of scale that will create jobs, empower businesses and build stronger communities leaving a lasting legacy of transformative change that will enhance the appeal of the Midlands as a tourist destination for generations to come. It is an unprecedented investment in tourism, and one that is going to have a tangible economic impact in the towns and communities of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and Ireland’s Ancient East.
“Fáilte Ireland is looking forward to working collaboratively with local tourism businesses and communities, the East and Midlands Regional Authority (EMRA), Bord na Mona, Local Authorities, and our strategic partners including Waterways Ireland, National Parks and Wildlife Service and Coillte to deliver this transformational project of scale.”
The scheme encompasses four strands, which include: Trail Development; Visitor Amenities; Alternative Low Carbon Accommodation; and Smart Specialisation, which involves digital transformation.
The Regenerative Tourism & Placemaking Scheme will enhance the potential of the region as a place to live and work, regenerate regional towns and villages with world-class tourism and recreation infrastructure that can transform the economies of communities in these regional areas.
It aims to create new enterprises and jobs by establishing the midlands as an authentic regenerative tourism destination, based on the sustainable use of the peatlands and wetlands resource. It will support the transition of the midlands to a carbon neutral destination through funding of sustainable tourism projects that are designed to have significant regenerative impacts on local communities and peatlands.
Welcoming the funding confirmation, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin said “The EU Just Transition Funding is a significant step for regenerative tourism development in Ireland, as we work to reduce our emissions in line with the Programme for Government. The scale of investment is a testament to the work of Fáilte Ireland in making a compelling case to the EU. I am confident that Fáilte Ireland, working in partnership with the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and my own Department, will deliver effectively on this ambitious scheme of work, which will transform tourism in the Midlands.”
“This investment is very much in line with the Programme for Government commitment for the development of a Sustainable Tourism Policy document. This new tourism policy will seek to support sustainable economic development in communities throughout the country, whilst protecting our environment and natural resources, and with a greater spread of demand across the year.
“The funding confirmed today will enable the development of a network of trails linked to existing and emerging greenways; provide support to tourism businesses developing tourism infrastructure and experiences; repurpose buildings for small scale tourism developments and support the use of smart technology and digitalisation to the benefit of visitors, businesses and the economy of the Midlands.”