€17M for ‘Hidden Heartlands’

A fund of €17 million for private and community-based small tourism projects is opening for applications.

Failte Ireland was allocated €68 million in funding in total as part of the European Union “Just Transition” package announced earlier this year. The fund aims to assist communities in making the transition from “brown to green” and helping to move the region away from carbon-intensive enterprises to more sustainable tourism developments.

The areas covered by the grant scheme include counties Laois, Westmeath, Offaly, Longford, Roscommon and parts of Galway, Tipperary and Kildare. The timeframe for the spending of the funding is between 2023 and 2026.

“This is a significant funding scheme for tourism in the Midlands that will leave a lasting legacy of transformative change,” said Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly.

“We encourage private and community-based micro-enterprises and SMEs to recognise the enormous potential of this scheme,” he added.

The scheme aims to transform tourism across the Midlands' counties, and projects may include bicycle hire companies, coffee shops or eco-pods along existing greenways.

Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan said the scheme is an example of how the Government and the European Union are working together to provide new employment and economic opportunities in the Midlands that will help local communities benefit directly from the green transition.

Fáilte Ireland looks forward to working collaboratively with local tourism businesses and communities, the East and Midland Regional Authority (EMRA), Bord na Móna, Local Authorities, and strategic partners including Waterways Ireland, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Coillte to implement the Regenerative Tourism & Placemaking Scheme.