The Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan today announced almost €1.125m in funding from Fáilte Ireland’s Capital Grants Allocation for 2016 for two key projects along the Wild Atlantic Way. A grant of €896k is being made available to Galway County Council for the Connemara Greenway and a grant of €225k is being allocated to the OPW towards Phase 1 of the development of new visitor facilities on the Great Blasket Island.
Speaking today, the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport said: “I am delighted to announce these grants today as these two important tourism attractions will provide a serious contribution to the future success of the Wild Atlantic Way. Tourism moves in a very competitive global market and capital development is one means by which we can ensure that we are fighting fit to win a good portion of overseas visitors and, thereby, gain a return on this investment through increased revenue and jobs regionally.”The grant for the development of the Connemara Greenway will fund a new section of the route from Cloonbeg to Athry, running adjacent to Ballynahinch Castle, with an estimated completion date in May 2017. This development is part of a wider plan for the Clifden to Oughterard Greenway that will link up with the planned Greenway from Galway City to Oughterard – ultimately resulting in a 78km Galway to Clifden Greenway offering a cycling experience of scale with international appeal for cycling enthusiasts.
The Blasket Centre is located on the Wild Atlantic Way, at the halfway point of the Slea Head Drive, on the Dingle Peninsula. It was developed as a heritage and visitor centre honouring the unique community who lived on the remote Blasket Islands until 1953. Currently, there are no visitor facilities on the island and today’s grant will assist the OPW in their overall development of the site by funding new facilities and services on the Island – expected to be completed later this summer.
Stressing the importance of capital funding for the ongoing evolution of tourism, Fáilte Ireland CEO Shaun Quinn emphasised: “These grants are an investment in the visitor experience on the ground. While the Wild Atlantic Way has been warmly received at home and abroad, it is still an evolving project. It is vital that we continue to invest in the project to ensure that we open up its full potential. We have great natural landscapes along the west coast but we must also ensure that we have top class tourism infrastructure, whether facilities or interpretation, to match them.”
With regards to capital funding for capital projects, Minister O’Donovan recently launched a new Fáilte Ireland Grants Scheme for Large Tourism Projects which will provide a pool of €65m in investment to develop new, or boost existing, tourism experiences and attractions across Ireland. The scheme, which will run from 2016-2020, is now open for applications from the public, private and voluntary sectors including community groups. Under the scheme, capital grants in excess of €200k and up to a maximum of €5m will be available. You can read more about this scheme here.