Fáilte Ireland is to invest €15.5m in up to 62 towns across the country in a bid to make them more attractive to tourists.

The scheme will run through local authorities and will between €250,000 and €500,000 granted to towns to help develop them into destinations. 

Each local authority can nominate up to two locations that have the potential to become destinations, with the investment targetted at the development of public spaces, signage and other public amenities.

"What we're looking for is the small things that will make a big difference," said Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly, speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland.

"So, for example, signage that will make it easier for visitors to find their way around towns, interpretation panels that will bring the culture and history of towns to life, it could be creating spaces for food and craft markets or entertainment spaces within towns.

"It'll be different on a town-by-town basis… it's those little things that can really make a town more attractive to visitors."

More than 10.6 million people travelled to Ireland last year, according to the Central Statistics Office, however many of their trips would focus on major urban areas – particularly Dublin.

Mr Kelly said the investment was part of a "complex tapestry" of measures by the tourism body which aim to spread the benefit of growing tourism numbers with more parts of the country.

"We're working on all of the elements of that – that includes the marketing, it includes the development of visitor attractions," he said. "We've got a whole number of what we call Visitor Experience Development Planning Groups, which are industry clusters that are working together with local authorities and ourselves to develop a holistic visitor experience for that area, so that each area can have a really good experience for 48 hours or three days."

There are terms and conditions attached to the application process, however, as towns seeking the Fáilte Ireland grant must already have at least one visitor attraction of scale, and a number of other attractions that would keep visitors interested for more than 11 hours.

Towns must also have at least 300 beds to accommodate visitors, as well as a range of food and drink options.

On a national basis 2019 is expected to be another year of growth for the tourism industry, however a global slowdown alongside Brexit uncertainty is likely to cool the pace of growth compared to previous years.

Mr Kelly says there is positivity, tinged with a degree of nervousness in the market at present. This is especially true as we move into what was supposed to be the post-Brexit phase of 2019.

"There is more uncertainty out there, people are holding off on making bookings, there is a little bit more softness in that area looking forward into the year," he said. "I think we'll still see growth this year but maybe not at the same rates as we saw last year."