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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 26 Jul 1961

Vol. 191 No. 11

Tourist Traffic Bill, 1961— Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

There is, I think, general acceptance of the principle enshrined in this Bill. Any criticisms that have been offered on this measure have been related to the judiciousness, or otherwise, of the way in which Bord Fáilte spend the moneys placed at their disposal. Our island is endowed with great natural beauty and there is an obligation on us to share that beauty with others. The purpose of this Bill is to provide greater facilities for tourism and to advertise our country better abroad in order to induce people to come here on holiday. In bygone years, before ever this State was formed, there were people who appreciated the value of the scenery here and who were prepared to exploit it in the interests of the nation. They came together voluntarily in order to advertise our scenic attractions. Subsequently Bord Fáilte was set up. It is doing magnificent work. Its bimonthly publication is a superb production. It advertises our country abroad and it gives people some idea of the gem of nature we have here for their enjoyment should they honour us.

Tourism is of immense value. It helps to correct our balance of payments. The Minister told us that over £42,000,000 was spent last year by tourists here. That shows how indispensable tourism has now become in relation to our balance of payments. It is somewhat disappointing to learn that British visitors last year accounted for only one per cent. of the tourists coming here. It is difficult to understand that position. Only last Monday in Cork I met two Scotsmen who are touring this country. They were most impressed. They had visited Killarney and they were anxious to know what points they should visit on their return journey to Dublin. It is heartwarming to meet these tourists anxious to pay tribute to our country.

Bord Fáilte has been instrumental in inducing people to come here in great numbers for international conferences, conventions and congresses. The more of these that we can get the better because they help to advertise our country abroad.

I should like the Minister to give us some figures for the number of people from Northern Ireland who take their holidays in the Twenty-Six Counties, if it is possible to disentangle the figures from the general statistics. Because of the return of austerity there it might be possible to induce large numbers from Northern Ireland to come into the Twenty-Six Counties. Such intercommunication is one of the best means of breaking down prejudices. We should exploit the position to the fullest extent possible and do everything now to encourage visitors from Northern Ireland to take advantage here of the cheaper cost of living, the absence of purchase tax, and so on. If we put the case well to Bord Fáilte that could be done right away. One of the first essentials would be for Bord Fáilte to provide an office in the Six Counties.

I am one with those who criticise the large grants given for luxury hotels. It is not fair to our traditional hoteliers who have done their best in the past, without any State aid, to provide satisfactory accommodation. Our first consideration should be these hoteliers who developed their premises gradually down through the years so that their hotels are sufficiently enlarged and modernised to attract any type of tourist. We should try to cater for the middle class and perhaps the wealthier class and forget about the millionaires in our efforts to attract tourists to this country.

Yesterday a number of Opposition speakers were critical of what they said was the emphasis put on Dublin by Bord Fáilte. I do not think that is fair criticism. Dublin's development has depended to a large extent on the enterprise of some of its hoteliers and has not received as much assistance from Bord Fáilte as other parts of the country. For instance, an old sore is the fact that there is not a first-class swimming pool in the capital city. An approach has been made to the Board with a view to assisting the local authority in the provision of a swimming pool. We are now informed that such a pool will be built somewhere in Dún Laoghaire. I should like to hear from the Minister what stage this proposal has reached. However, because Dún Laoghaire has been selected as a site for the pool again, the city is being refused this amenity.

Surely a pool for Dublin is a matter for Dublin Corporation?

I understand that Bord Fáilte are financing the pool in Dún Laoghaire. In other capital cities even in Douglas, Isle of Man, there are first-class swimming pools provided. It is my view that when tourists come here during the warm weather and go around the city looking at the shops, visiting museums and other places of interest, when they become tired and warm there is nothing they would prefer than to go to a proper swimming pool and refresh themselves. Such an amenity is provided in the centre of Paris not far from the Place de Concorde.

As I say, the criticism regarding the amount of money made available by the Board to Dublin is unfair. There are many schemes that could be put forward that are usually undertaken by the local authorities. For instance, we had a Deputy from County Dublin speaking about Portmarnock. The Dublin Corporation had to contribute to building the roads to open up Portmarnock. The Board should seriously consider greater development in the Dublin area because with the airport situated here greater benefits would accrue to the country as a whole.

I wish to commend the action of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in introducing this Bill and giving an increased grant to Bord Fáilte. In doing so, I imply my congratulation to Bord Fáilte for the work they have done in placing the scenic beauty of Ireland before the eyes of the world. They have done a magnificent job but they have done it only for certain parts of the country. Coming from Mayo, I will say there is something like resentment amongst the people owning hotels there. They believe they do not get a reasonable slice of the cake of publicity and propaganda which I believe they deserve.

As Deputy Palmer has said, Killarney has its lakes and dells. Mayo too has its own beauty spots, its landscapes, its sea fishing and inland fishing and other amenities such as would attract the tourist from any part of the world. I should like the Minister in replying to say whether Mayo is getting its fair share of publicity from the Tourist Board. I say they should get at least 75 per cent. of the share that Killarney, Sneem and Killorglin get.

The reputation of Ireland as a tourist centre depends not alone upon the beauty of her scenery but upon the inherent hospitality of our people. We have that talent to attract people and in speaking to them we give them that relaxed feeling which they wish to get when they come to a country such as ours. Even the children who may be working in the hayfields or who may be by the roadsides giving a friendly wave to these people, give better publicity to our country than can be given in any newspaper. I suggest to the authorities of Bord Fáilte that they should initiate a campaign to encourage the people of Ireland, both children and adults, to do their best, outside their legitimate business, to be congenial with the people who come from abroad.

I have noticed in other countries when people ask for directions or some kind of guidance they are always treated with respect. When they ask for some kind of guidance they are always treated with respect, and with that businesslike air that is sometimes lacking in this country. Tourists who come here are usually from busy industrial centres where the tempo of life is quicker than it is here. What they really want is relaxation, tranquillity and peace and I would say that outside Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Belfast they will get it all over this country. They will get it especially in Kerry and Mayo.

Mr. Lynch

They would get it in Cork, too.

I doubt it. We have many organised attractions for the tourists. Fishing is well developed in most of the counties in the West. Its attraction has proved to be most beneficial in the counties bordering on the Shannon. I would like to congratulate the Inland Fisheries Trust for the wonderful advantages they have provided for the tourist in ridding the lakes of predatory fish, and in developing those waters adjacent to the lakes.

I would suggest that Bord Fáilte should do something similar about shooting, if possible. Shooting is a sport which occurs during the winter and if we could attract to Ireland during the off-tourist season people interested in shooting we would be doing a very good day's work for the hoteliers and guest houses. People who shoot and fish do not ask for first class hotel accommodation. All they wish for is good accommodation, plain food and, when they come back in the evening, a drink in the local tavern. I think that after a few drinks both fishermen and sportsmen add a lot to their actual experiences and an attraction for the tourists would be to meet the local characters who can outdo them in exaggerated experiences. It would be a pity if those experiences should be cut short. Unfortunately due probably to the law as it now stands, it appears that facilities will not be offered to the tourists to meet in certain places where they might swop yarns and talk about the big one that got away. The tourist association give the hoteliers grants for the extension and elaboration of their premises. They do not do that for the local publicans.

The Deputy may not elaborate in connection with that matter because the Minister for Industry and Commerce has nothing at all to do with that. He has no function in the matter.

In deference to the Chair I am just speaking about local characters and tourists. I would say that the Chair is a bit premature in pulling me up.

The Deputy may come back to the Bill.

Tourists come here to enjoy themselves—to enjoy our climate such as it is, to enjoy our food and to enjoy our drink. On the question of food, there should be a campaign to have the local types of food served in various parts of the country. When we go to the seaside, let us say any place from Bundoran down along the whole coast even as far as that God-forsaken place called Sneem, the people living in these areas should have some local dish to attract the tourist. It could be lobster, crayfish, mussels, cockles—all these things would add up to something that would be original in that particular locality. I would suggest to Bord Fáilte through the Minister that those local dishes should be on the menu. On various parts of the Continent a local dish is an attraction that takes tourists there.

Now let us come to one disadvantage to tourists especially in Dublin. One notices numerous photographers on the streets, taking photographs both by day and night. Usually they demand payment on the spot and say that the photograph when finished will be sent to the person whose name they take. I honestly believe, and I know it from my own experience, that some of these photographers are absolute frauds. They never send on the finished picture. Some kind of licence should be issued to these people before they are allowed to deceive tourists or people from the country who come up here and pay with honest coin of the realm but get no satisfaction out of it. These people should be stopped from operating on the streets. In conclusion I should like to say that I consider it unjust and unfair that hotels should be given a certain amount of liberty in selling certain commodities outside hours.

The Deputy will not discuss the Intoxicating Liquor Bill in that fashion.

I am sorry, a Cheann Comhairle, but I just wanted to mention that facilities are offered——

The Deputy should not go any further.

I am speaking for the publicans.

The Deputy is endeavouring to get it in.

That is where I fell this evening.

Let me say, in conclusion, that there is widespread resentment all over the country.

The Deputy may not say it, even in conclusion.

I have said it and thank you very much for allowing me to say it.

I knew the Deputy would get that far and that then he would be finished.

I welcome the announcement that the Tourist Board is to get more money to develop the tourist industry because, as the Minister has said, it is a very important industry in this country. I should like Bord Fáilte to develop the smaller hotels and guest houses. If one looks through the book published by the Tourist Board of hotels and guest houses that are registered one notices that in the smaller districts there is neither a hotel nor a guest house. That is a great pity for the reason that we tend to think of tourists in the mass, as being just tourists who will want to go to the bigger hotels where all the amenities are available. Tourists have their likes and dislikes. A great number of them are very intelligent in their ideas. They want to see the country. The only proper way of seeing a country is to mix with the people in the country. They can do that in the smaller hotels and guest houses because the majority of our people cannot afford to stay at the big hotels. Tourists, even though they can afford to go to the bigger hotels, prefer to go to smaller places so that they can meet people and find out things about our country and discuss the differences between our country and theirs.

Many people in the smaller tourist places would develop their premises into guest houses if they could get grants to help them to do so. I hope the Tourist Board will concentrate in helping the smaller hotels and guest houses.

Bord Fáilte should also concentrate on improving strands. There are very beautiful beaches and excellent sandy beaches around the coast that other countries have not got. Unfortunately there is no place on them to park cars. If tarred car parks were provided they would be of great advantage not only to the tourists but to the local people. That is a task that the Tourist Board should undertake. They should not expect the local councils to do it. It is no part of their function but it is part of the Tourist Board's business in order to provide an amenity for tourists.

Now that angling has become so popular the Tourist Board should concentrate more on making good roads to the lakes. These roads are not council roads. They are ordinary accommodation roads. The county councils cannot spend any money on them unless they take them over. Generally, there are no houses on these roads. They are purely for the benefit of tourists who want to fish. Tourists bring their cars along a good tarred council road and then, having seen the road going up to the lake, turn back because they do not like to risk their cars on bad roads. The Tourist Board have improved a few of these roads and have made a very good job of them but they should do more in that line in order to attract more tourists because there are people who come to this country solely for the fishing.

The Tourist Board office in London does a very good job in attracting tourists to this country. In the month of January people enquire at various tourist offices before making up their minds which country they will visit for summer holidays. If there were more of these offices in various towns, not only in Britain but in other countries, we would get far more tourists than we do.

One difficulty in this country is that the weather is not always what it should be in the summer. Take a town like Killarney with its scenic attraction of lakes and mountains. Quite often the weather is so wet that people just cannot leave the hotel or guest house. Many of them take hotel or guest house accommodation on the basis of bed and breakfast and after breakfast have to go out and amuse themselves. Quite often the rain is pouring down and they have nowhere to go. The Tourist Board should make provision for indoor amusements. At present we have not got the indoor amusements that are absolutely necessary when the weather is very bad and people cannot go out on jaunting cars or on the lakes.

It is all right for people with cars who can travel a few miles and perhaps get better weather, but people who cannot afford cars have to wait until perhaps 8.30 at night for the theatre or cinema to open. There is nothing for them to do during the day. On a week day they can go into the shops but on a Sunday they are just wandering about in mackintoshes looking very miserable and deciding never to come back again. If the Tourist Board are helped by way of grant or something else they could encourage tourists to stay here even when the weather is bad. I congratulate the Minister on giving this grant to the Tourist Board, and I am sure when we consider what they did before, with this extra money they will be able to make a good impression on the tourist industry.

In my opinion there are two types of tourist. There is the tourist Bord Fáilte caters for, the well-to-do elderly tourist who likes quiet and likes to sit in a hotel lounge with whiskey and a cigar. There is also the type of tourist who does not want quiet and who does not want to die yet. For every one of the first type there are probably 500 of the working type tourist who want plenty of cheap beer, cigarettes, a swim, a good laugh, and a sing-song.

I have been to the Isle of Man, I have been to Blackpool, and I have been to Coney Island in the States. I know what the ordinary people want. Bord Fáilte do not cater for that type of tourist. We should remember that there are 50 or 60 million people in Great Britain and there must be a tourist potential of about 30 million. They are not catered for here. They find it difficult to get digs when they come here. If they come in the holiday period they cannot get a bed and they are told: "We are full up."

If we had tourist camps built cheaply those people would come here. They are looking only for a bed. The average worker from England does not even want breakfast. If he gets a bed he will buy some fish and chips for himself. If it were known that there were tourist camps here, built cheaply and simply those people might well organise to come here annually. I am sure that if those camps were properly publicised the English workers would stagger their holidays to come here. We do not want everyone to come in the month of August. If they were told of our cheap beer and cigarettes, and that they could get a bed, they would come here because those are the things they want.

I have often been advised that if I wanted a cheap holiday I should go to Spain. I was told if I went to Spain I would get 30/- for my £ but if I went to Belgium I would get only about 12/- for my £. That is the sort of thing that goes around. If we advertised that people can have a good time here, that beer and cigarettes were cheap, and that they could get a bed in a holiday camp, I am sure they would organise to stagger their holidays. It could develop into a large scale business within a period of six months.

We do not want them all to come together. It does not help employment to have everyone working for one month, working half-time for three months, and then not working at all. We should aim at five or six months' work for all the people we hope to engage in this business. In the Isle of Man there are camps which cater for 500 or 600 people. There is a fortune to be made in the Isle of Man for at least four or five months of the year. Blackpool is the same—the Golden Mile. The owners make so much money that they retire on holidays themselves and sit and smoke cigars for the rest of the year. My point is that there is a potential of 20 million or 30 million tourists from Britain, and we should cater for them as well as for the well-to-do elderly gentlemen.

There is no development in Portmarnock which is nine miles from Dublin. There is no accommodation there for the type of people to whom I refer. There is a hotel but it probably charges £10 to £12 a week and that does not interest the worker who has £25 or £30 from his club. He wants a bed and he will spend the rest on food and drink. Portmarnock has one of the best strands in Dublin, but most of the year it is like a graveyard. There is no sewerage on the strand side. If the caravan tourist trade is to be developed we must have caravan sites in and around seaside resorts with proper sewerage. The conditions there are very primitive. Subsidies should be given to the local people for sewerage for these caravan sites.

Deputy Palmer said that we should ensure that our menus are printed in Irish as well as in English. I do not know what purpose that would serve. The type of people we are trying to get to come here will not know a word of Irish.

They do not know French either.

The Deputy is wrong. They have a good idea of what certain French words on a menu mean. They would not know what Irish words meant and the words would be only ornamental. I know that something like cabbage appears in French on the menu as something like caviar. The tourist has a fairly good idea that it is only cabbage. He is not codded.

Cabáiste would be easier than the caviar the Deputy speaks of.

It would be all right to have Irish on the menus if we were expecting tourists from the Gaeltacht, but we are not expecting tourists from the Gaeltacht. They have got the "dough" and they do not give it out.

They know when they have got enough to eat.

I mean no offence but it would serve no purpose. As we read in this morning's Press, a packet of cigarettes costs 4/6d. and watered beer costs 1/7d. in Britain. If we can get those people to realise that we have strong beer and cheaper cigarettes they will come here. They must consider the prices especially when they have only a limited amount of money to spend. Excursion rates spread over five or six months should be provided because when people hear that they can travel cheaply they will arrange to travel in May. If they knew they could travel cheaply and get a bed here they would make a practice of taking their holidays in May. Our problem is to get those people, the working people of Britain, to spread their holidays over five or six months of the year.

I join with other Deputies in paying a tribute to the work being done to encourage the tourist industry. In the matter of this Bill, however, I have one reservation. The current grant to Bord Fáilte is an annual one but now we have the position where it may be extended beyond the term of one year. My concern is that in such a situation this House should have an opportunity every year of reviewing the activities of Bord Fáilte. I want to be assured that, having obtained this sum, Bord Fáilte will still be accountable to the Minister and to this House as to how the money is spent.

I was interested to read of the attempts being made to make the most of the scenic views of this country which are so many and so varied. It is to be hoped that the local authorities, in conjunction with Bord Fáilte, will make these views more easily accessible and that the high fences and thorn hedges along the roadsides will be lowered. I know a start has been made on it but we can enlarge upon that work to the great advantage not only of the people who come here but to the people of the areas in which these views are situated.

In places of scenic beauty, I suggest that the roads should be widened sufficiently to allow for the parking of cars so that the free flow of traffic would not be impeded. In those areas a tendency has been growing to park caravans. That has become a feature of tourism everywhere and it is something that should be catered for more extensively here by the provision of caravan sites and, if it could be done without undue cost, of water supplies on these sites.

On the question of our national monuments and places of historical interest, it strikes me that a great many people do not fully appreciate what these monuments stand for. I suggested on a previous occasion that it would be well worth while to have short accounts of monuments or ruins of historical interest provided on the sites in glass frames so that people could read them easily. On the Continent one finds at the entrances to all major cities a pillar with a series of maps in revolving cases which can easily be turned about. Not alone is there a street map of the cities and towns themselves but they also provide information about places of interest within a reasonable distance. If we could provide such information without undue cost it would help not only tourists who come from abroad but our own people as well.

I was very glad to hear Deputy Mrs. Crowley refer to amusement facilities and the need for indoor facilities in wet weather. Now that we have such a large number of tourists coming from Britain we should become more aware of the fact that they are very given to pastimes which might be made available readily—bowling greens and hard tennis courts. The provision of such amenities is a thing in which local effort should be co-ordinated but I do not think it should be left entirely to local effort because it might mean that the amenities would become attached to major hotels in which case the right of admission might be reserved to the people who frequent the hotels as guests. I would make these facilities available for tourists of all classes and indeed for our own people as well. They would attract both outside tourists and our own people to such centres and would help to keep the people of the locality at home.

We can readily understand that wealthy tourists may go where they will. People who have money are not concerned about where they stop. They can pick and choose, but the middle classes and those with more limited means are the people we should encourage to come by the provision of grants. From that point of view I was very glad to hear the suggestions about our smaller hotels and guest houses. I agree that they should be encouraged by every means possible to provide more accommodation for the type of tourist now coming here. Deputy Sherwin referred to the Golden Mile. I hope we will never reach that stage here because anyone who has seen the strand at Blackpool will realise that there is not very much relaxation for either mind or body there.

It is a gold mine though.

There are certain things which we all know militate against the success of our tourist effort. Public opinion is the only thing that can help here because there is very little either the Minister or Bord Fáilte can do. I refer to the pestering and importuning of people in our larger towns. It is something that the Garda are attending to. There is no doubt that this kind of thing upsets people. We in this country have a tradition for hospitality and the type of person to whom I refer does little to help us to keep that name. We want Ireland to remain the land of welcomes.

I should like to pay a special tribute to the publication of Bord Fáilte. It is a very well produced document; the photographs are varied and the articles of very high merit. We should try to make it more readily available. It is something that would help a great deal to make known abroad our natural amenities and the customs of our people. It is an invitation in itself to visit such places, if one had the time and the money. I know the Board has had its own film, and it was a very beautiful one indeed. I would hope it would not stop at one and that, if and when it can provide funds, it would continue to distribute such films or even film strips to be used as widely as possible in countries nearer to us, so as to advertise more freely what we have to offer here.

I welcome the measure from the point of view of the increased money. I believe it is a sound investment. Tourism has proved itself to be our second money spinner. I hope when the Minister is concluding he will give us the assurance that this annual review will take place in the House and that Deputies will have an opportunity of reviewing the activities of Bord Fáilte at the end of the year and how this money has been used. Everybody will hope it will bring an increased number of tourists to the country.

It seems obvious from the tone of the debate that the Minister will have no difficulty in getting the House to agree to his further subvention to Bord Fáilte. I think that can be regarded as a vote of confidence in the working of the Board, and in my opinion the Board are deserving of a vote of confidence.

It is most gratifying to realise that we have reached the stage for some time past where tourism is no longer the plaything of Party politics. Everybody realises its tremendous importance in our economic life and most people also realise its potential value. The only regret I have is that we are not able to afford more money for its promotion. We talk about tourism as being our second biggest industry, but surely there is no comparison between the outlay on it and the outlay on agriculture and other forms of industry? An infinitesimal amount of money is being spent on tourism and the Board are handicapped by want of necessary funds. Surely we know what it costs to advertise in foreign countries and in various ways to publicise the attractions of this country?

Although Deputy Sherwin has his views on the subject of the language and of having attractions like those of Brighton and Blackpool, I think the average Briton, like the average European, if he can afford it, likes to get away and experience something different from what he has at home. He wants to go to a country, whose language he can understand maybe, but which can show him something different from what he sees every day at home. If the menu were in the Irish language it might be taken home as a souvenir, whereas if it were completely in English, it might be left on the table.

The same remarks apply to the various other attractions we have, which are not so obvious to ourselves because we live with them but which are quite strange to the person Deputy Jones mentioned who cannot find room to sit down along the "Golden Mile" of Blackpool. Such a person would find plenty of room to relax and enjoy himself in Portmarnock, to which Deputy Sherwin referred, if he were properly directed to it and could get a bus there at regular intervals.

In most parts of the country there is a tremendous lack of accommodation in guest houses. If we are to attract visitors from across channel we must visualise something other than grade A hotels. Many of those people want something more modest, and a guest house fills their requirements. I know that at the moment it is not possible for a tourist to find guest house accommodation in West Cork. There was a movement started last year, sponsored by Bord Fáilte, to promote "living with the people." It had much to recommend it. I have not heard what happened, except that in Inchigeela it was a very great success indeed. I do not know of anywhere else it has succeeded. If the private individual could be enticed to take a cross-channel visitor for a fortnight or longer during the summer months, it would meet the situation in some measure. I can visualise a great number of visitors enjoying such a holiday living with the people and it would be of mutual benefit.

I wish to compliment those associated with the greatly extended and most enjoyable bus tours—one-day, six-day and ten-day tours—run by C.I.E. in conjunction with Bord Fáilte. One thing that will develop tremendously in the next five or ten years is caravanning. That will require the development of caravan sites.

That brings me to another point. Whatever about customs we have here that may seem strange and whatever about the pastimes we have, there is definitely a need for ordinary modern public conveniences in the more populated resorts. It is just not good enough at a weekend to have a thousand people in a small seaside resort and no public convenience of any kind available. We must face up to that problem. There are difficulties inasmuch as there are not always sewerage facilities. However, they have overcome that on the Continent. I feel if Bord Fáilte could make available expert engineering advice to local authorities, they might get the local authorities to provide the necessary money. At present the local authorities feel the task is beyond them. They visualise a tremendous scheme, with a very big capital outlay, and are not prepared to face up to it. But I believe it could be done much more modestly and quite efficiently. If Bord Fáilte could find that solution and make it available to local authorities, we might get somewhere.

I was glad Deputy Jones mentioned films, because I can think of no better way of publicising the scenic attractions of the country. I have seen several films sponsored by Bord Fáilte and they were all admirable. Much, however, remains to be done and it could be done if the money were available.

Finally, I shall sound a warning note. It is true our people generally appreciate the value of the tourist and are kind, courteous and generous to tourists. But there is a very small percentage, I am sorry to say—human nature being as it is we must expect it —who take advantage of the tourist and who try to cash in on him by overcharging or cheating in one way or another. It should be made clear through all the publicity we can have that such a person has not the support of the people and is not typical of the nation.

Everything possible should be done to bring to the notice of Bord Fáilte, or the responsible authorities, the case of a person who is cheated or not treated properly. I think the percentage is very small but nobody should be allowed to go away with a wrong impression of the country because of the manner in which he is treated at a certain guest house or by a certain individual. Taking the long view, that would be a great pity. I congratulate Bord Fáilte on what they have done with limited resources in the past. If the Government now, and in the future, can make more money available that money, as a previous speaker said, will prove a very good investment.

I have always held that the British industrial worker is, from the point of view of our tourist industry, much more valuable than the American millionaire. From my personal knowledge I believe we have fallen down very badly on tourist publicity in Britain. We are missing a golden opportunity. In the canteens in the large industrial areas it should be possible to arrange film shows advertising what our country has to offer. That is not being done. That was brought home forcibly to me in one particular instance in which a propaganda film was borrowed, kept for six months, and nobody asked for it back. People regard the cost of shipping a car overseas as prohibitive and they prefer to go to Scotland or down to Cornwall because they are shy of transporting a car overseas. If the ease with which cars can be transported here was brought to their attention they would be very glad to spend a holiday in Ireland, a holiday as cheap as any holiday they might spend in Scotland or the south of England. I urge the Minister to bring these points to the notice of the publicity section of Bord Fáilte. I have no doubt whatever that, if publicity is given, we will attract these people here.

I want to assure Deputy Jones at the outset that the Bill before the House is not in any way an attempt to evade responsibility for coming before the Dáil each year and having the policy and purpose of Bord Fáilte debated in this House. Up to now the practice has been to devote a sum of not more than £500,000 per annum to Bord Fáilte for their ordinary promotional and other activities. The figure of £500,000 was set in the 1955 Act. Having regard to the change in money values since then it is not unreasonable for Bord Fáilte now to ask the Dáil to vote them an annual sum greater than £500,000. While £500,000, having regard to the return on that outlay, may not appear to be a very large sum we have to appreciate that there must be a limit on the amount of promotional moneys we can make available for tourist purposes.

This Bill has three main purposes. The first is to make available to Bord Fáilte over the next seven years a sum not exceeding £5,000,000 which will mean roughly about £700,000 per annum. The second is to increase from £3,000,000 to £5,000,000 the amount which Bord Fáilte may guarantee for loans for hotel and tourist resort development. The third is to remove the limit of £75,000 yearly which represents the sum that Bord Fáilte were permitted to pay by way of interest on loans for hotel improvement and building purposes. Bord Fáilte will have to account to the House in the ordinary way during the course of the Estimates presented under the aegis of the Department of Industry and Commerce. It has been represented by Bord Fáilte that the next few years will be important in tourist promotion and, if they are given more money now, they may be able to increase the value to our economy of expenditure for tourist purposes.

Deputy Cosgrave asked whether we are getting a sufficient return for the moneys we are expending. He compared the increase in tourist income in the different countries in Europe as published by O.E.E.C. recently. These figures showed that the rate of expansion for Ireland was very low—12 per cent. in a period of three years from 1955 to 1958, compared with 25 per cent. in Britain and 64 per cent. in West Germany. He pointed out that Switzerland was only 5 per cent. The Swiss tourist industry is very highly developed. Up to some years ago it was the main income for the country. The Swiss used that income to build up their manufacturing industries and these industries have now far out-stripped tourism as a means of national income. We must not forget that these countries have attractions over and above those we can offer. They are situated on the European mainland and travel is naturally easier overland than it is oversea. They have certain climatic advantages. I should like to point out that our climate is not as bad as some would have us believe. People who come here take us to task for complaining so much about our weather; they say that our climate is not half as bad as we represent it to be. The figure of 12 per cent. expansion as representing the increase in tourist income in a three year period is perhaps low. The purpose of this Bill is to try to increase that rate of income.

If there was any thought permeating the course of the debate it was that we should concentrate more on the ordinary British tourist than on the more exotic type of tourist from other parts of the world. Most of the Deputies who spoke seem to have ignored the fact that that was one of the main points of my introductory speech. I am not claiming any credit for that because Bord Fáilte have long realised the value to this country of the British middle-class tourist and they have made special efforts to attract that type of tourist. They have established offices in different parts of Britain mainly for that purpose.

As I have said, there are some 300,000 British tourists coming here every year. Of the 30,000,000 or so people who leave their homes in Britain to go on holidays, not necessarily abroad of course, it is not unreasonable to hope to attract another 1 per cent. and make the number of these tourists 600,000 as against 300,000. In order to do that, as many Deputies pointed out, we would require to have the type of accommodation that suits them best.

As far as Bord Fáilte are concerned there is no question of concentrating on luxury type accommodation. The grants that are available are standard bedroom grants and reconstruction grants. Over and above that there are loans which are guaranteed by Bord Fáilte and loans which are available from other sources in respect of both of which Bord Fáilte are prepared for a period of five years to pay the interest. Therefore, there is no distinction in the facilities afforded by Bord Fáilte for the financing of hotel construction and improvement schemes as between the ordinary and the luxury type accommodation.

I agree with the many Deputies who made the point that the keystone of our tourist traffic is the ordinary family type hotel. As long as we can have enough of these situated in sufficiently diversified locations throughout the country then our tourist industry is bound to succeed. Some Deputies while, in general, congratulating Bord Fáilte on their performance, criticised different aspects of their administration. That is inevitable in the case of any State board. There must be some defects in their administration as seen by different people. Deputy Kyne, for example, instanced the case of a man who had procured financial assistance from Bord Fáilte for a particular job and who then embarked upon a more extended operation in his hotel for which he failed to get a grant. Deputy Kyne suggested therefore that Bord Fáilte had a rule that as long as the due returns for financial assistance on one operation were outstanding, assistance might not be given for a second operation. That is completely wrong. As long as Bord Fáilte are satisfied that the economics of any scheme are sound they are prepared to assist any undertaking. For my own part, both as Deputy and as Minister, I have had my knocks, too, from Bord Fáilte. I have made representations to them in both capacities on behalf of different people and from my own observations I can only conclude they examine all cases objectively. They try to assess the merits of each scheme put before them and decide on the basis of their assessment what financial assistance they can give.

The same remarks apply to grants for tourist resort development. Under the principal Act a sum of £1,000,000 is being devoted to major resort development. By the decision of this House it was left to Bord Fáilte to decide what areas would qualify under the Act for development. Deputy Desmond in the course of his remarks said the resort in which he was most interested, Crosshaven, County Cork, was one that ought to qualify for some assistance under that Act. If I were given a free hand in the administration of that £1,000,000, Crosshaven would be very high on my list of priorities because I have a certain attachment to it. I know it perhaps better than any other holiday resort in the country. I have certain nostalgic affiliations with it and perhaps it was just as well that Bord Fáilte and not the Minister was given the power to decide to which resorts the major resort development grants were to be given. I can only conclude that Bord Fáilte in their wisdom and having regard to their special knowledge of the situation make up their minds what areas and what schemes submitted to them are best entitled to assistance.

There were many points made during the course of the debate to which it would be difficult for me and to which perhaps I would not be expected to reply. However, I would say the main attraction for tourists to this country is its unspoiled nature. Deputy Sherwin suggested we should try to develop a "golden mile," such as they have in Blackpool, in places like Portmarnock. For my part, as long as I am Minister for Industry and Commerc I hope we never see that type of development. I hate the hurdy-gurdy type of amenities.

The Minister does, but there are other people different from him.

All over Europe they have blaring noises and glaring lights and I believe that even though they may be popular now, the time will come when people will become nauseated by that type of entertainment and look for the type of amenity and attraction this country has to offer and will come here in increasing numbers. It will be very difficult to keep our tourist resorts unspoiled but in so far as they can remain unspoiled, while being given a due amount of development, that is the kind of tourist amenity I should like to offer to foreign visitors.

Our people do not go to those places. The Isle of Man is full of Irish people.

The people who go to the Isle of Man, I do not know what they are like. They usually go to restaurants and have table d'hôte meals or whatever you like to call them. They go from there to an organised pool and from there to an organised dance. They can get that type of entertainment anywhere in Dublin any night of the week, as Deputy Sherwin knows well. The type of attraction we have to offer is the natural, unspoiled beauty of the countryside that no other country in Europe can offer to the same extent.

I had the experience once of being on one of West Kerry's beautiful beaches. There was another group of people on the beach a couple of hundred yards away. I was delighted to hit a place like this. Shortly after I arrived there with my group another group, obviously a local group, came along over the sand dunes. They looked around and saw the two groups of people and they said: "This place is too crowded; let us go somewhere else."

There are some people who like crowds and who like sing-songs. The Minister is speaking for himself.

I like a sing-song too. I go to seaside resorts where one can have sing-songs. I have been all over Ireland, in Ballybunion, Kilkee, Bundoran——

There is not much solitude in any of those places. It is not solitude that takes people to those places. Will the Minister go down to Galway next week?

I was never at Galway reces.

He should go.

It would be a gold mine.

It might not be a gold mine but it would be an education. In any event the people that come here are mainly returned emigrants.

I shall come to that point.

What percentage of the people classified as tourists are really returned emigrants?

Several Deputies asked that question.

Has the Minister any information?

The majority of them are returned emigrants.

I do not know that the Deputy's cynicism has gone as far as believing that——

The fact is that a lot of people who are classified as tourists are people coming back to their old homes.

Nobody ever denied that.

What percentage of our tourists are that type? I do not want Bord Fáilte to get those people home. They are coming back to see their people.

Does the Deputy object to the moneys we are providing here?

I think Bord Fáilte is getting credit for bringing people here who would come in any event and we are paying money to get people here who would come in any event.

That is typical of Deputy McGilligan. He objects to all capital outlay. If we all had his outlook, we would be sitting here in hovels all our lives.

I got a lot of people out of hovels whom you put into them in England—nearly half a million in five years.

I will give him the figures fairly and honestly as I have them. The value of cross-Channel visitors to this country was about £21.8 millions in 1960.

What is the total?

£42.4 millions.

That is half, half the total. But of that £21.8 millions, which represents all types of tourists, returning emigrants, people coming on business perhaps, we have £10 million representing genuine tourists. That again represents almost 50 per cent. of the total which is not a bad percentage. It might be some comfort to Deputy McGilligan to know that over the period from 1955 to 1960 that represents a steady increase from about 38 per cent. up to almost 50 per cent. with a slight setback during the 1958 period when certain——

Would you balance that by saying what is the expenditure of Bord Fáilte over the corresponding years?

The limit has been set at £500,000.

What is their expenditure?

The Deputy can work it out. The limit is set at £500,000 a year. That limit has never been taken off. Over a period of four years it would be £2 million at the most.

Half of that did not need a bob to be spent on it.

That brings me to Deputy Cosgrave's question which was coined more objectively than Deputy McGilligan's:—"Are we satisfied we are getting value for it?" One can never be satisfied one is getting value for promotional activities under all heads. Publicity costs a lot of money and while one cannot relate the return in any business activity to any particular type of publicity, one has to take the rough with the smooth and one must realise that unless one publicises one's wares one will not get due return.

Some Deputies raised the question of indoor facilities. I think Deputy Mrs. Crowley in particular raised that question. She suggested that Bord Fáilte should provide some subvention to either local authorities or private interests to provide these amenities. My answer to that is that the money we are providing here, and have been providing down the years for tourist promotion, is money which is priming the pump rather than monies which represent capital outlay. Tourism is a business and one largely from which private enterprise draws profit. Therefore once the pump has been primed, in many respects by Bord Fáilte, it is up to private interests, whether they be hoteliers, amusement centre owners or others, to provide these indoor amenities that will attract tourists from abroad and will keep them amused when the weather is not so fine.

Criticism was made, not by very many Deputies but by some, with regard to overcharging in hotels. I have made several comments since I became Minister for Industry and Commerce on that point. By and large people who go to hotels in any country like to know exactly what they are likely to spend and when they are charged more than the stated tariff, or when they are charged extras which they have not taken into account, it is an irritant on people generally and is usually something they remember to the point that they return neither to that hotel again nor even to the town or country where that hotel is situated.

Bord Fáilte has powers for the publication of recognised hotels and guest houses. These hotels are required to state in advance each year their charges and Bord Fáilte and the general public expect them to adhere to these charges. If there are any complaints, Bord Fáilte are very glad to hear about them and I, for one, would have no sympathy with any hotel or guest house struck off the register or that would be denied the right to call itself an hotel or guest house by reason of overcharging.

I know that the number of hotel proprietors who engage in this practice is very limited but nevertheless, a few small examples can create a bad impression. I shall encourage Bord Fáilte on all occasions to be ruthless in dealing with these people. The good name that we have gained in business and in tourism internationally is one that we ought to treasure and one we should be very jealous of.

There were very many other minor points raised during the debate that I do not think it necessary to deal with in detail. One I should have adverted to was the complaint by some of the Labour Deputies about alleged bad treatment of hotel workers, especially those who have been Bord Fáilte trainees. That has not been brought officially to my notice. I have seen comments on it recently in the Press. I doubt if it is widespread to any extent but if there is any complaint I would be glad to receive particulars. In the meantime, I would expect that the trade union, the I.T.G.W.U. which caters for hotel employees, would be well able to redress any grievance that any of these young workers have and, as I said, I believe they are very few.

I think these are all the points that were raised of a general nature and that I feel called upon to deal with. As I said the minor points that have been raised will be brought to Bord Fáilte's attention although I do not think it will be necessary to bring them to their attention because they are very conscious of these matters generally.

In conclusion, I want to make one other remark and that is in reference to the statement by Deputy Sir Anthony Esmonde that all tourist publicity is directed towards Dublin. I think that is completely untrue. It may be that private individuals promote Dublin above other parts of the country but reference has been made to the publication "Ireland of the Welcomes". I think everyone will agree that the publicity there is very diversified and that all parts of the country are treated in turn and with due regard to their attractions. I do not think there is any suggestion that Dublin above any other part of the country receives an undue amount of tourist publicity from Bord Fáilte. I do not think there is any suggestion that Dublin above any other part of the country can be singled out as having received an undue proportion of publicity from Bord Fáilte.

What is the penalty for overcharging or inadequate service if it is proved against an establishment?

They may be crossed off the register and not included in the Bord Fáilte publication.

How many have been cut off, on an average, in the past five years?

For overcharging? I cannot say how many.

It would not be substantial?

Some have been cut off for not conforming to certain standards of hygiene and service.

I am suggesting that the only way of securing proper charges and adequate service is the penalty of removal. Very few have been removed.

Very few, yes. I hope that will indicate that the complaints of overcharging are very few also.

I take it as meaning that a lot of complaints made are not followed up. It would be better publicity to show that certain people had been penalised for not having given adequate service or for overcharging. That has not been done.

I would not like to see it done just for publicity purposes.

If you say that one dissatisfied person makes a lot of propaganda against the country, I say that if one person who was aggrieved saw that penalties were imposed it would make a great deal of difference.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 1st August, 1961.