Tourist attraction €150m plan to boost regional jobs

ITIC chief executive Eoghan O'Mara Walsh

A €150m boost by Fáilte Ireland to develop standalone tourist attractions across the country must act as a catalyst for the Government to boost regional economies.

That is according to the chief executive of lobby group, the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC), who claimed the Government had to match the ambition of private investment which had pledged "€2.5bn in new hotels, attractions, and routes in the next the years alone".

Eoghan O'Mara Walsh said: "Public investment in new tourism product is important as this sector is the only industry that can deliver regional balance and economic development. The Government must do all it can to support Irish tourism competitiveness during these turbulent times of Brexit."

Fáilte Ireland said its €150m fund will develop what it called "major new visitor attractions of scale across the country".

The body said the so-called "Platform for Growth" fund will see individual grants of €2.5m or more for large-scale projects.

The large attractions would be designed as a magnet to draw in tourists to a specific town or area, Fáilte Ireland said.

The standalone landmarks would "fill gaps in the Irish tourism offering in order to meet changing visitor preferences", it said.

It follows a strategy in recent years of designating routes as tourist trails, such as the 2,500-kilometre stretch between Cork and Donegal along the west coast, the Wild Atlantic Way.

One of the new standalone attractions, the new Museum of Literature Ireland, or MoLI, was used as the launchpad for the new €150m fund. The Dublin attraction is set to open later this year.

The grants for the new tourist attractions will be based on "strategic importance, potential for economic growth and job creation in communities", Fáilte Ireland said.

Criteria for the grants must be "grounded in consumer research and satisfy what overseas visitors want", it added.

The organisation's chief executive Paul Kelly said: "Driving growth in the regions through tourism is a core focus of our work at Fáilte Ireland and having top-class visitor attractions and experiences is an integral part of this."

He said Fáilte Ireland was currently working on over 50 large capital projects throughout the country "that will significantly enhance the Irish tourism offering as they open in the coming four years".

"Creating a more regional spread of visitors is central to our capital investment strategy and through Platforms for Growth, new attractions across the country will be developed and existing ones transformed," Mr Kelly said

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