€500,000 for niche tourism projects
Wexford Local Development (WLD) CEO, Brian Kehoe has announced that €500,000 of LEADER Programme grant aid is to be made available to niche tourism projects throughout the county during the coming months.
This funding will be targeted at existing businesses as well as new business start-ups and offers a great opportunity for projects that display innovation, job creation and job retention potential in the activity, adventure, eco, marine and heritage tourism sectors.
Tourism development is a critical driver of economic activity in Wexford and the continued development of this sector offers huge potential to revitalise local economies, provide job opportunities and enhance the quality of life for everybody.
While Wexford has the fifth highest number of domestic tourists in Ireland, according to Mr Kehoe, the challenge for the county is to develop tourism initiatives that dovetail with the Irelands Ancient East branding campaign from Fáilte Ireland.
This will ensure that Wexford can capitalise on the targeted 600,000 additional overseas visitors to Ireland by 2020, increasing visitor revenue by 25 per cent.
Essentially the primary goal is to get people here, get them to stay longer and get them to spend more. Given that tourists are always looking for a new and different experience, WLD Enterprise Specialists, Tom Bermingham and Helena Dempsey want to hear from tourism businesses as well as entrepreneurs with a plan to develop something new and different that will attract additional tourists to the county. Under previous LEADER programmes, investment in niche tourism businesses has demonstrated substantial benefits for the economy of County Wexford. Through the new LEADER programme, the continued provision of grant aid to start-up and developing tourism enterprises will maximise Wexford's future competitiveness as a visitor destination. Wexford Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) in partnership with WLD has responsibility for the delivery of the new LEADER Programme in the county under the remit of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs. In a change from the rolling application process that applied during previous LEADER programmes, the new Programme has competitive targeted calls for applications from different sectors at specific times. In order for projects to be considered for funding, applicants must complete a competitive two stage application process: 1. Complete an "Expression of Interest" form, available from www.wld.ie, to determine if the proposal meets the objectives of the Wexford Local Development Strategy and complies with the LEADER Programme Operating Rules. 2. Applicants that are successful at Stage 1 will be invited to submit a full application with detailed costings and a business plan.