Heather Humphreys, TD - Minister of Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands,, Our Rural Future launch

€14m fund to support outdoor adventure activities

Scheme to support and develop the adventure tourism sector in rural communities

A new fund to develop recreational activities at mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, beaches and bogs has been announced. The Government investment will support initiatives such as tidal pools, floating boardwalks, mountain trails, forest walks, greenways and blueways.

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, opened a call for applications for funding for outdoor recreation projects and investment that will support the adventure tourism sector in rural communities.

The funding, which is being provided under the Outdoor Recreation and Infrastructure Scheme, will support the key objectives of Our Rural Future - the Government’s ambitious new policy for Rural Ireland.

More activities eligible for funding support include activities such as hiking/mountaineering, cycling, horse-riding, canoeing/kayaking, swimming, surfing, sailing, rock-climbing, fishing, paragliding and hang-gliding.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to consider opportunities to develop recreational amenities and increase public access and enjoyment of rural Ireland’s mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, beaches and bogs.

Minister Humphreys said: “As part of Our Rural Future, the Government’s ambitious new policy for rural development, I want to see rural Ireland become a destination of choice domestically and internationally for outdoor pursuits and adventure tourism.

“I want to see applications coming forward which seek to develop and improve access to rural Ireland’s unique, natural amenities such as our lakes, rivers and beaches, as well as our forests, mountains and bogs.

“Through this Fund, we will invest in the development of forest and mountain trails, tidal pools, floating boardwalks on our lakes and bogs, greenways, blueways, bridleways and much more.

“COVID-19 has given us all a renewed appreciation for our great outdoors. Through this fund, I want us to develop our fantastic natural amenities so that people can access them and enjoy them.

“Successful projects will also bring significant economic spin off benefits for our rural towns and villages by attracting both domestic and international tourists in the future.”

Projects applications will be accepted from Local Authorities under the following Measures:

· Measure 1 for small scale projects requiring funding of up to €20,000,

· Measure 2 for medium scale projects with funding of up to €200,000,

· Measure 3 for large scale projects seeking funding of up to €500,000, and

· Project Development Measure funding of up to €50,000 for development costs for strategic large scale projects.

Also welcoming the funding, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, said:

“Over the last three years, Fáilte Ireland has invested €11million to the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme, with a further €4million committed for 2021.

“Our partnership has helped transform the landscape of Ireland by investing in infrastructure across the country to expand and develop facilities for outdoor recreation activities including walking, cycling, watersports and running.

“With 226 projects funded to date in 2021, we look forward to supporting the Department of Community and Rural Development and Fáilte Ireland in developing the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme for 2021.

“With increasing numbers of people participating in outdoor activities, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, the ORIS scheme supports the development of new routes and paths, provides invaluable funding towards improvements, maintenance and upkeep of some of Ireland’s most popular trails.

“These outdoor amenities provide access to healthy, sustainable recreation for locals and visitors alike, while also providing economic benefit for local communities nationwide.”

For more information about the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme visit gov.ie