The Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring TD, this week officially launched a new Community Tourism Initiative for the country's Diaspora which seeks to build on the legacy of The Gathering 2013.
The initiative, a joint partnership between Fáilte Ireland, IPB Insurance and the 34 Local Authorities (under the auspices of the County and City Managers Association), will provide an annual fund of €1 million over the next three years to support up to 700 local community-based events and festivals each year.
Launching the fund, Minister Ring pointed out: “The Gathering was a great success all round. It brought people back to Ireland, and it got us all working together. But the real reason it worked so well was because of the passion and drive of thousands of volunteers and communities around the country. People often ask me what the legacy of The Gathering should be.
“I believe The Gathering has brought communities together, near and far. Today’s initiative means we can support that legacy and build on the new relationships, and the many new projects that came out of 2013.”
The Community Tourism Diaspora Initiative is a direct response to one of the clear successes of last year’s The Gathering where 5,000 communities mobilised to harness their diaspora links for the benefit of local and community tourism.
Commenting on the initiative’s potential to build on the legacy of The Gathering, Fáilte Ireland director Paul Keeley emphasised: “There clearly is an appetite out there to continue many of the Gathering community events which sprang up last year. Indeed, our own research on The Gathering showed that more than half of the organisers involved were interested in running their local event again. The initiative launched today is a very tangible proof that we wish to build on the legacy of The Gathering and nurture those grass roots networks which sprang to life last year.”
Local authorities throughout the country will now seek to clearly identify those local events with the best potential to be successfully repeated and to support them in their efforts to develop long-lasting diaspora connections. It is estimated that there are possibly 500-700 viable community events which could be supported in this way. A number of Gatherings held last year were recognised through the Excellence in Local Government Awards which highlighted those events that merit special attention.