A fund of €17 million for private and community-based small tourism projects is opening for applications today.

Fáilte Ireland was allocated €68 million in funding in total, the first part of which is focused on grants for small and community projects.

It is part of the European Union Just Transition package announced earlier this year.

The fund aims to assist communities in making the transition from "brown to green" and helping to move the region away from carbon-intensive enterprises to more sustainable tourism developments.

The areas covered by the grant scheme include counties Laois, Westmeath, Offaly, Longford, Roscommon and parts of Galway, Tipperary and Kildare.

The timeframe for the spending of the funding is between 2023 and 2026.

"This is a significant funding scheme for tourism in the midlands that will leave a lasting legacy of transformative change," said CEO of Fáilte Ireland Paul Kelly.

"We encourage private and community-based micro-enterprises and SMEs to recognise the enormous potential of this scheme," he added.

The scheme aims to transform tourism across the midlands' counties and projects may include bicycle hire companies, coffee shops or eco-pods along existing greenways.

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Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan said the scheme is an example of how the Government and the EU are working together to provide new employment and economic opportunities in the midlands that will help local communities benefit directly from the green transition.

Applications for the scheme will be assessed by Fáilte Ireland. The agency will provide guidance and offer direct support to applicants.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Director of Product Development at Fáilte Ireland Orla Carroll said the project is aimed at counties most affected by the change "from brown to green".

"This territory wouldn't be as mature as other territories from a tourism perspective, so it is a huge opportunity to grow this, and I suppose for the area to diversify the economy from a tourism perspective."