9 April 2019
By Bryan Smyth
Fáilte Ireland will invest €15.5million through the local authorities to boost the attractiveness and tourism appeal of up to 62 towns across the country.
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.
Through the scheme1, every local authority in the country will be able to bid for funding of between €250,000 and €500,000 to develop up to two towns in their area which have the potential to become a ‘destination town’ for tourists.
With Fáilte Ireland research consistently showing that attractive towns and cities are key motivators for overseas holidaymakers coming to Ireland2, the new scheme will provide funding to Councils to enhance public spaces such as squares, streetscapes and markets in a way that will engage tourists and enhance their experience in key towns.
This 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.
The ‘destination towns’ will need to demonstrate their capacity and appeal to attract more international visitors to stay overnight – a key driver of spend. To be successful in their funding submissions, Councils will be expected to identify towns that have:
At least one visitor attraction of scale that can drive tourism demand.
A range of things to see and do for two days – A town that hopes to attract overnight visitors needs to offer 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.
A selection of accommodation – Towns will need 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 to meet the visitor needs including a range of options for light snacks, tea/coffee, lunch and dinner.
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin T.D., said:
“I’m delighted to unveil Fáilte Ireland’s new investment scheme, which 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.”
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 and set out the key drivers of what makes a town appealing to the international tourist.
These guidelines are intended as a practical aid to Local Authorities, Chambers of Commerce, LEADER Programme Local Action Groups and other business and community groups who consider their town to either be a tourism destination town or have the potential to develop as one. They can also be used by smaller towns and villages with the potential to further develop as day trip destinations.
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 Cork’s 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.”
The scheme will officially open in April for applications from Local Authorities and will close in September. Fáilte Ireland’s regional teams will work with each Local Authority to identify towns in every county which have the potential to grow their tourism economy. They will then assess the development need using the Destination Town Framework unveiled today, as well as the town’s potential to drive a greater regional and seasonal spread of tourism.
Welcoming the scheme, Ann Doherty, Chair of the County and City Management Association EECC Committee added:
“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.”