DUBLIN, Ireland - Funding has been approved for Ireland's National Parks and Reserves under the Rural Regeneration Development Fund.
€5 million is to be made available in funding for the network of National Park and Wildlife Service sites situated all around rural Ireland, it was announced Thursday by Michael Ring, Ireland's Minister for Rural and Community Development.
The funding will go towards the upgrading and development of trails across the Parks and Reserves network, increased visitor facilities and improved signage and branding.
"I am delighted that this investment is being made in our world class National Parks. These sites are capable of delivering even more than nature conservation and habitat protection and by upgrading our visitor facilities these projects will encourage incremental visitors to move beyond the traditional tourism hot spots and urban centres by spreading additional visitors to rural Ireland where the Parks & Nature Reserves are located," the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan said Thursday.
Orla Carroll, Director of Product Development in Failte Ireland added: "Failte Ireland warmly welcomes today's funding announcement by Minister Ring and the Department for Rural and Community Development. Our consumer research shows that visits to National Parks are seen as an important element of a holiday to Ireland with one of the key motivators being the unspoilt nature and natural beauty of the landscapes. Today's announcement will see the facilities and amenities available to visitors greatly enhanced and upgraded resulting in increased visitor numbers and a positive economic boost to local rural communities."
Minister Madigan concluded: ""Ireland has a network of 80 Nature Reserves and managed sites spread across 20 counties spanning the length and breadth of the country. Along with the National Parks, the Nature Reserves are part of the economic engine that drives local economies attributable to tourists and recreational users coming into rural areas requiring accommodation, restaurants and other facilities. Each National Park and Nature Reserve contains rare or threatened habitats, flora and fauna, with dramatically different landscapes and habitats, offering a variety of unique visitor experiences. This funding provides us with the opportunity to raise awareness of nature conservation and biodiversity and for both recreational tourism and eco-tourism."