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€11 Million funding for Outdoor Projects: Infrastructure Scheme

Major investment announced recently with greenways, blueways and walking trails all getting a significant boost.

Seventy eight projects have been granted funding under the Measure 2 of the 2018 Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme.

The Scheme is part of the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development and provides funding for the development of new outdoor recreational infrastructure. It also supports the maintenance, enhancement and promotion of existing outdoor recreational infrastructure in Ireland.

The grants being announced today, through this joint initiative, will support a mix of medium scale new developments, and the repair and upgrade of many existing recreational trails in rural areas. The successful projects will receive grants of up to €200,000 each.

Examples of the projects which have been approved include:

  • The Great Arch Trail from Polletto Fanad Head in Donegal
  • The development of an Outdoor Activity Hub in Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny
  • The development of a pedestrian walkway from Cashel to the Rock of Cashel and HoreAbbey in Co. Tipperary
  • The development of a walkway/cycleway at Mallow Castle grounds in Co. Cork
  • The development of the Boyne Greenway in Drogheda, Co. Louth.

Making the announcement today, Minister Ring said:

Recreational tourism has been seen as an elixir to many ravaged rural areas, particularly in the west and have been supported and funded by local councils. Visiting numbers from here and abroad continue to rise as they seek out the the many greenways, blueways and walking trails which have been developed around the country in recent years. This in turn has generated income for rural areas and help to create more jobs in the hospitality and leisure sectors. Figures available from Fáilte Ireland reveal that in 2017, 26% of all overseas tourists engaged in some level of hiking or cross-country walking. This equates to 2.3 million tourists, spending an estimated €1.3 bn during their stay in Ireland. A further 451,000 overseas tourists took part in cycling activities.

Fanad Lighthouse – The Great Arch Trail Fanad received almost €140,000 in funding

Local communities are also using these trails in large numbers. A survey of users on the Waterford Greenway, Ireland’s longest off-road cycling and walking trail, shows that almost two thirds of users are local people.

Ms Orla Carroll, Director of Strategic Development with Fáilte Ireland, said:

“Fáilte Ireland welcomes the announcement of funding for the successful projects under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme. As the National Tourism Development Authority, it is one of our strategic objectives to ensure that the economic benefits of tourism are spread regionally across the country. We will continue to work positively in partnership with the Department of Rural and Community Development to deliver quality visitor experiences and to enhance and further develop our recreational tourism offering and the additional social benefits they bring to local communities.” Over €40 million has now been allocated to almost 600 projects under this scheme since 2016 to improve existing, and develop new, walking trails, greenways and other recreational amenities for communities and visitors all over Ireland. The continued development of recreational infrastructure will not only support Ireland’s developing rural tourism industry, but will also provide better recreation options for local people and families for their own enjoyment of the countryside.

The Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme provides funding under three separate measures:

  • Measure 1: Small maintenance/promotion of existing infrastructure (maximum grant €20,000)
  • Measure 2: Medium scale repair/upgrade and development of new small/medium infrastructure (maximum grant €200,000)
  • Measure 3: Repair/upgrade and development of larger more strategic projects (grant between €200,001 and €500,000).

The announcement of 78 successful projects under Measure 2 follows on from the announcement in September 2018 of €1.8 million in funding allocated to 128 small-scale projects under Measure 1, and the announcement in November of €8.1 million allocated to 18 large-scale projects under Measure 3.

Projects approved under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme will primarily be run by Local Authorities and State Agencies, and funding will be provided to a maximum of 80% of total project costs, with the balance to be provided from Local Authority or other sources.

Hiking and cross-country walking have seen a steady increase in popularity, with the numbers of overseas tourists engaging in this activity doubling in the last 5 years.

Figures available from Fáilte Ireland reveal that in 2017, 26% of all overseas tourists engaged in some level of hiking or cross-country walking. This equates to 2.3 million tourists, spending an estimated €1.3 bn during their stay in Ireland.

Similar statistics reveal that 5% of overseas tourists took part in cycling activities, equating to 451,000 tourists, who in their time in Ireland spend an estimated €246,000 benefiting the local economy.

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