The Way of St James in Spain
Two Carlow projects have received funding under the Outdoor Recreation Scheme, it was revealed today.
A Countryside Community Cycle Scheme has been given €20,000 for the development of bike sharing docking stations across the Carlow countryside.
Meanwhile, Carlow's camino - Turas Columbanus - has been given €112,000 in funding for development and signage at St Mullins - Maganey.
Turas Columbanus is a new exciting pilgrims trail that follows in the footsteps of St Columbanus from his Leinster birthplace to Bangor via Cleenish Island in Fermanagh.
Michael Ring, Minister for Rural and Community Development and Ms Orla Carroll, Director of Strategic Development with Fáilte Ireland on Tuesday jointly announced the approval of almost €11 million in funding for 78 projects under 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.
Minister Ring said: "Recreational tourism is a growing part of Ireland’s tourism offering, and we have seen an increase in the number of Irish and overseas visitors enjoying the many greenways, blueways and walking trails which have been developed around the country in recent years.
"This is generating income for rural areas and helping 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.
"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.
"I am delighted, in collaboration with Fáilte Ireland, to announce funding of almost €11 million today to 78 very important projects under this phase of the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme.
"I warmly welcome the contribution of Fáilte Ireland, who are providing €3 million of the total being allocated today, enabling us to support a wide range of projects which will benefit rural Ireland."
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."
Minister Ring added: "The funding being announced today builds on the €10 million which I allocated during 2018 to 150 projects under Measures 1 and 3 of the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme and brings the total investment from the 2018 call for proposals to almost €21 million.
"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 our 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.
"I want to congratulate the Local Authorities, Local Development Companies and communities who have worked together to bring forward the projects funded under the scheme in the last two years."