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Councils plan €156m worth of projects to Brexit-proof Irish tourism

City and county councils all over Ireland plan to develop 256 new tourism projects worth €156 million in a bid to Brexit-proof Irish tourism.

The plans were detailed at a conference at Cork's Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday. Organised by the County and City Management Association (CCMA) and Fáilte Ireland, the event was designed to identify ways to strengthen the Irish tourism market.

A report presented at the conference noted that city and county councils have plans for more than 250 new tourism projects nationwide, including new walking trails, discovery centres, cultural plazas, harbours, and sports facilities. Councils will contribute €156 million to these projects, with a further €205 million leveraged from external agencies.

The move is designed to bolster the country's tourism offering amid the uncertainty caused by Brexit. 35% of Ireland's overseas tourists come from Britain.

Ann Doherty, chief executive of Cork City Council and chairwoman of the CCMA Economic and Enterprise Committee, said councils are continually looking for new ways to reach out to potential visitors:

Brexit is a challenge the local authority sector is actively addressing, committing increased resources and working even harder to expand our markets and generate new offerings.

"With 35% of Ireland’s overseas tourists coming from the UK, and in a competitive international market, it has never been more important to actively develop new offerings to provide diverse and niche tourism products throughout the country to appeal to both domestic and foreign tourists."

The report presented at the conference detailed the work done by local authorities in supporting tourism in Ireland. It claimed that more than 460 tourist attractions are supported by councils nationwide, including historic buildings, forest parks, greenways and more, with 65% of these free to visitors.

They also support more than 1400 festivals annually and, in 2018, €7.8 million was spent by local authorities to develop specific tourism infrastructure.

Fáilte Ireland CEO, Paul Kelly, said: "Local authorities are a key partner for us and the work they do to develop local area makes tourism a viable industry in so many towns and communities across Ireland. Alongside Fáilte Ireland’s ongoing investment in visitor experiences and product across the country, the additional funding for tourism announced by councils today will make a significant contribution to how Ireland attracts tourists from around the world.”