The Government is to invest €17 million in a new scheme to develop outdoor dining capacity nationwide.
The Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme, announced today, is comprised of two parts and will be delivered in partnership between Fáilte Ireland and local authorities across the country.
Part one of the scheme will provide funding for individual tourism and hospitality businesses to develop and increase their own outdoor seating capacity.
Funding allocated under part two will enable local authorities to develop permanent outdoor public dining spaces in towns and urban centres.
Under part one of the scheme, businesses serving food can apply for a grant of up to €4,000 and can cover expenses incurred since last April.
Announcing the news today, Minister for Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport, Gaeltacht and Media, Catherine Martin said the scheme aims to help businesses increase their dining and seating capacity in the short-term and "enable a long-term strategy for local authorities to develop appropriate permanent weatherproofed outdoor dining infrastructure".
"This funding announcement further strengthens this Government’s commitment to the development of rural towns, as outlined in the ‘Our Rural Future’ plan announced earlier this week," she continued.
Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, said he looks forward to seeing the results of the scheme across the country.
"Part one of the Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme relates to outdoor seating and accessories to help tourism and hospitality businesses offset some of the costs incurred in upgrading premises for outdoor dining and seating.
"Part Two of the scheme relates to weatherproofing and outdoor dining infrastructure which focuses on the development of medium to large scale permanent public dining spaces in towns and centres in preparation for welcoming back visitors when it is safe to do so.
"Each local authority can apply for up to €200,000 under this element of the scheme.
"We have been working closely with the County and City Management Association (CCMA) on behalf of the local authorities to design a scheme that will be efficient and practical," he said.
Last summer, Cork made international headlines with its 'Eat on the Street' initiative pioneered by businesses on Princes Street, which is set to return this year when restrictions ease.
The scheme opens for initial applications on April 12.