Wexford Local Development (WLD) 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 5th highest number of domestic tourists in Ireland, the challenge for the county is to develop tourism initiatives that dovetail with the Ireland’s 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%. 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 & 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, continued provision of grant aid to start-up and developing tourism enterprises will maximise Wexford’s 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. This competitive process aims to ensure that only the best and most worthy projects will be approved for grant aid. Grant aid rates of up to 50% are available for capital and marketing costs, while up to 75% grant aid is available for feasibility studies.
In order for projects to be considered for funding, applicants must complete a competitive two stage application process:
- Complete an “Expression of Interest” form to determine if the proposal meets the objectives of the Wexford Local Development Strategy and complies with the LEADER Programme Operating Rules.
- Applicants that are successful at Stage 1 will be invited to submit a full application with detailed costings and a business plan.
Expression of interest forms for grant aid for Activity, Adventure, Eco, Marine and Heritage Tourism sectors are now available to download from the “forms & publications” section of the WLD website. The closing date for receipt of completed forms is 12 noon on Tuesday 28th February 2017.