Failte Irelands Outdoor dining grant opens on the 12th of April
Last February, Failte Ireland held their “Survive to thrive webinar” (read our key take aways here). During the webinar, Paul Keeley, Director of regional development introduced the 5 key areas of focus for this team in 2021. One of these areas was making the best of urban outdoors. Under that pillar, Failte Ireland have announced the Outdoor Dining Enhancement Investment Scheme. Under this new outdoor dining grant, tourism and hospitality businesses can upgrade or develop their outdoor dining areas. Local authorities can also develop outdoor dining spaces in towns and urban areas to promote all year round outside dining.
When hotels and restaurants opened last June after lock down 1, outside dining was a big hit. Many businesses were now offering outside dining options as a safer alternative to being inside. This was all well and good during the summer months. Fast forward to October 2020 and we were all plunged into level 4 restrictions. Restaurants and hotels could cater for 15 people outside only (unless they were residents). There was a big difference between catering for people outside during the summer and catering for people in October. But should this be the way forward to increase capacity in our restaurants and hotels?
Take the case of our neighbours in Europe. Their weather differs somewhat in that it is A LOT colder in winter and hotter during the summer. So why should we be using our weather as an excuse not to dine outside in Ireland in winter. It may be a case of “If you build it, they will come”. All over the globe in fact, businesses have been coming up with innovative ideas on how to offer outside dining during colder weather. Check out this article from Fine dining lovers. Think log cabins, bring your own blanket, heated tables and Geodesic domes.
Every tourism and hospitality business therefore should be seizing the opportunity to develop an all year around outside dining area. The Outdoor Dining Enhancement Investment Scheme will have 2 main elements. The first one is for individual businesses to apply for grants (Of up to €4000) to develop and increase their own outdoor seating capacity. This application will launch on the 12th of April.
The second element is the Weather proofing and outdoor dining infrastructure. Through collaboration with Local Authorities, this scheme will aim to upgrade and enhance streets and public spaces and implement weather-proofing solutions to facilitate year-round outdoor dining in key tourism centres. Again, this would be a great opportunity to work with your local authority in developing your towns dining infrastructure- and to ultimately bring more visitors to your area all year round!
A great example of city outdoor dining was Cork city council pedestrianising 17 streets last summer to enable safe outdoor dining. Some of these streets have now been permanently closed to traffic (mainly between 9am and 2am). Cork could be the city to watch as outdoor dining takes off.
The announcement of the Outdoor dining grant is another welcome support from the government and Failte Ireland. It instills hope and anticipation that we do have brighter days ahead in the industry.
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