Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has called on Fáilte Ireland to consider extending the Outdoor Dining grant scheme to include urban centres and towns in Louth and border regions, saying that it was a huge disappointed that the border region has been completely excluded.
The grant is part of a number of supports that Fáilte Ireland has brought on board for businesses in the industry that were not eligible for previous grant aid, such as the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS).
The grant will provide assistance with outdoor infrastructure to accommodate outdoor dining, and will be managed through local authorities.
The scheme reportedly covers Dublin, Kilkenny, Killarney, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Cork and Athlone.
Teachta Munster said:“The supports announced for 2021 are welcome, and I’d like to commend Fáilte Ireland on their work in providing assistance to the tourism sector during this extremely difficult time.
“While I welcome that the Minister is finally providing grant aid and other supports for tourism businesses that were not entitled to the supports made available last year, such as the CRSS, it is clear that some gaps remain.
“One of these is the glaring omission of the border region in terms of the Outdoor Dining grant, and this must be amended.
“We all know that the border and midlands regions require additional supports and development when it comes to tourism.
"This is even more pressing during the current crisis.
“Tourism has completely collapsed, and we need to ensure that we support the industry in every way we can ahead of this year’s season when we all hope to be in a position to holiday in Ireland.
“I have written to Fáilte Ireland asking them to explain why the border region was not included, and have asked them to reconsider this, and ensure that urban centres in the border region can avail of this funding.
“Louth is home to Ireland’s two largest towns, and tourism funding should reflect this fact.
“We want to encourage people to visit our towns this year, and the provision of ample outdoor dining space is central to that.
“In recent years Drogheda has proved to be a fantastic tourism destination, which was abundantly clear when we successfully hosted the Fleadh Cheoil twice in the last few years.
"The county has plenty to offer in terms of beautiful coastal towns, and incredible historical features and history and we look forward to welcoming visitors back to Louth this year.”