Calls have been Fáilte Ireland’s new ‘undiscovered town’ scheme to be more flexible towards Donegal’s rural areas following a €15.5million investment announcement for 62 towns across the country.
Through the scheme, every local authority in the country will be able to bid for funding of between €250,000 and €500,000 to develop up to two towns in their area which have the potential to become a ‘destination town’ for tourists.
However, in order to qualify for selection, towns will need to demonstrate their capacity and appeal to attract more international visitors to stay overnight – a key driver of spend.
Speaking on Monday, a local election candidate for the Milford, Maria Doherty said the scheme’s current rules don’t take into consideration Donegal’s rural landscape.
“This initiative is a good start in promoting tourism and helping local communities to expand their tourist footprint,” Doherty said.
“The scheme is very restrictive in some ways as towns are only eligible if they reach a number of criteria such as a range of things to see and do for two days and a selection of accommodation and at least one visitor attraction of scale that can drive tourism demand and a range of food offerings.
“The Milford area has all these but not in one town but spread across the region from Ramelton to rural villages and areas on our coast routes such as Fanad, Kerrykeel and Rosgui
“This scheme is a good start but it does not take into account the diverse tourist landscape in places like rural Donegal.
“We need to have a degree of flexibility as not all tourist amenities are grouped together around towns as is the case in the Milford area.
“We don’t have any public transport system so tourists will be driving to each area so it is important that this scheme is flexible so that tourists areas in rural Donegal can benefit.”
Details of the criteria for the scheme can be seen below.
To be successful in their funding submissions, Councils will be expected to identify towns that have:
- At least one visitor attraction of scale that can drive tourism demand.
- A range of things to see and do for two days – A town that hopes to attract overnight visitors needs to offer a variety of attractions, activities and entertainment options which can keep tourists engaged for more than 11 hours a day, including three hours in the evening.
- A selection of accommodation – Towns will need accommodation stock of at least 300 beds to become a seasonal destination town (and 1,000 beds to operate as a year-round destination) or be a town that has the potential to grow its bedstock in the future.
- A range of food offerings to meet the visitor needs including a range of options for light snacks, tea/coffee, lunch and dinner.