€14 million in funding has been announced for outdoor recreation projects and investment that will support the adventure tourism sector in rural communities – with Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys opening a call for applications under the fund today (Friday, April 23).

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 new policy for rural Ireland.

According to the Department of Rural and Community Development, the focus of the funding is to “develop rural Ireland’s unique natural amenities”.

In addition, it will support outdoor pursuits and adventure activities such as hiking/mountaineering, cycling, horse-riding, canoeing/kayaking, swimming, surfing, sailing, rock-climbing, fishing, paragliding and hang-gliding.

The fund will provide for “significant investment” in the development of outdoor trails, walkways, cycleways, blueways, tidal pools, floating boardwalks and bridleways.

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”.

Heather Humphreys Minister for Community and Rural Development

Today’s funding announcement is aimed at supporting outdoor recreation tourism, a growing tourism sector internationally, which has the potential to have major economic spin-off benefits for rural towns and villages as well as improving the health and well-being of rural communities.

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.

Launching the fund today, 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.

“The €14 million fund I am announcing today is focused on supporting a wide range of activities and projects for persons of all ages and abilities.

“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,” the minister added.

Heather Humphreys Minister for Community and Rural Development

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

“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.

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

For those interested, more information about the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme can be found on gov.ie.