More than €2 million announced to improve walking and cycling trails
Minister Michael Ring says 32 projects to benefit
Grants of up to €100,000 will be awarded to 32 outdoor recreation projects. File photograph: Eric Luke
Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring has approved €2.2 million in funding for grants to improve walking and cycling trails throughout the country.
Mr Ring has promised grants of up to €100,000 for 32 projects under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme which includes the South Leinster Way, the Wicklow Cliff Walk, the Wexford Trails, Sheanadh Mhacha in Co Galway and Achill Greenway Trail in Co Mayo.
Billy Fox Memorial in Co Monaghan, the Grand Canal Greenway in Co Offaly, Lough Gill Blueway in Co Sligo and the Boyneside Trail in Co Louth are also among the projects to receive funding.
“2017 was a record year for tourism, with overseas visitors up by 3.7 per cent to the end of November. I am delighted to start 2018 by announcing €2.2 million to support the further development of Ireland’s outdoor recreational infrastructure in order to enhance what’s on offer for domestic and overseas visitors alike, as well as improving amenities for local people,” Minister Ring said.
“From mountain bike trails to stunning walking, cycling and hiking routes, from blueways to heritage trails, there is something for everyone across the country to enjoy.
“Investing in infrastructure which enables people to access and enjoy Ireland’s wonderful natural environment and our rich heritage makes sense on many levels. It creates wonderful amenities for local people and it helps attract visitors which in turn brings economic benefits.”
Mr Ring said he was encouraging local authorities to ensure funding is spent without delay so “people can get the full benefit of these excellent amenities”.
“The Outdoor Recreational Infrastructure Scheme is a competitive scheme and the level of demand for funding in 2017 far exceeded expectations.
“This demonstrates the pride which people in rural areas have in their natural environment and their desire to harness the recreational and economic potential of their local offering. I encourage people to take the opportunity in 2018 to experience what the country has to offer in terms of outdoor recreation.”
Figures from Fáilte Ireland show that in 2014 almost 1.2 million visitors to Ireland took part in hiking or cross country walking. These activity tourists spent in the region of €915 million in the Irish economy during their stay.