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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 2 Jul 1963

Vol. 204 No. 1

Private Bills. - Tourist Traffic Bill, 1963— Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time.

The purpose of the Bill is to increase to £1.5 million the fund of £500,000 which was established under Section 2 (1) (b) of the Tourist Traffic Act, 1959, for the giving of grants by Bord Fáilte Éireann for the development of holiday accommodation. Under the Bord Fáilte grant schemes, cash grants of 20 per cent are available towards the cost of providing additional hotel bedrooms, either by way of constructing new hotels or by additions to existing hotels. Grants of 20 per cent are also available for general improvement works in hotels such as the provision of central heating, the conversion of bedrooms into bed/bath units and other structural improvements. Two new grant schemes were added in July, 1962, under which 20 per cent grants are available for the construction or improvement of accommodation for staff and for the provision of entertainment facilities for guests, for example, recreation rooms, tennis courts, putting greens and so on.

In addition to the grant schemes, hoteliers have the advantage of a State guaranteed loan scheme which assists them to raise capital on favourable terms, and Bord Fáilte also pay grants from their general funds towards the interest charges on moneys borrowed, whether under guarantee or not, for extension or improvement works. Hoteliers improving their premises qualify for a remission for seven years of two-thirds of local rates attributable to the improvements and there are also valuable income tax allowances in respect of expenditure incurred on development works.

As a result of the incentives available, the volume of accommodation— which a few years ago was a major bottleneck in the tourist industry—has increased substantially. The total number of registered rooms in hotels and guest houses increased from 16,642 in 1958 to 19,630 at the beginning of this year, an increase of almost 3,000. Approximately 1,800 rooms were added in the top grades—A Star and A— and nearly 1,500 in grades B and B/C. Accommodation in the lower two grades, C and D, showed a fall of nearly 300 due to various reasons— premises going out of business, or establishments improving their accommodation and moving into higher grades.

A good deal of attention has been focussed on the building of new top grade accommodation, especially the new Intercontinental Hotels in Dublin, Cork and Limerick. The opening of these hotels and the extension of existing first-class hotels are welcome developments because until now we have not been able to meet the demand for first-class accommodation. Tour promoters and travel agents have been reluctant to promote certain categories of traffic to this country because of our inability to guarantee accommodation of the requisite standard and much business, especially from North America, has been lost as a result. We will now be in a position to cater adequately for this traffic. The Intercontinental Hotels will form part of an international chain of hotels and will enjoy the active support of the sales and promotional effort of the Irish Air Companies, who are large shareholders, and of Pan American Airways who are associated with the project through their subsidiary company, Intercontinental Hotels Incorporated. I have no doubt that considerable new business will accrue to this country through these hotels and that the benefits will be evident in our future tourist income.

Targets in top grade accommodation are now assured and for some time past, Bord Fáilte have not been prepared to encourage any additional expansion of first class accommodation except where the promoter is in a position to generate additional business for the extra accommodation.

Progress in Grade B and the lower grades, while not so spectacular, has been not inconsiderable. The current Bord Fáilte Guide to hotels and guest houses has 1,226 more rooms in Grade B and 252 more in Grade B/C than in 1958. There is, however, still a need for development of accommodation in these grades—in some cases for extension, in others for modernisation and improvement. Although the top grade hotels bring very valuable additional visitor traffic, we must continue to look to British visitors of moderate income to comprise the main bulk of our tourist trade. There is an increasing trend nowadays towards the inclusive tour—the package holiday based on all-in tariffs. There is a large market in Britain for this very type of holiday and this year Córas Iompair Éireann and Aer Lingus are co-operating in a new scheme of package holidays based on a number of selected centres.

There is considerable scope for the development of this traffic but the availability of suitable accommodation is a limiting factor. We need to have in recognised tourist areas moderately priced accommodation able to cater for parties of sixty and upwards for up to two weeks at a time. Many of our resorts, however, cannot offer this facility, and I have asked Bord Fáilte and Ostlanna Iompair Éireann Teo— the CIE subsidiary which now operates the Great Southern Hotels—to study the economics of providing new hotels in western and other tourist areas not already adequately served by medium-priced accommodation. Existing hotels in the middle and lower grades tend to be on the small side. Grades B/C, C and D account for 58 per cent of the total number of hotels but only 35 per cent of the total number of hotel rooms. The average size of hotels in these grades is 14 rooms and there are 80 hotels with less than ten rooms. In addition, many hotels in these grades would benefit from modernisation work but only 8 per cent of them have utilised the Bord Fáilte improvement grant scheme.

I would like to make it clear that the grants for the development of accommodation have since their inception been equally available in respect of all grades. The fact that progress in the top grades has been more significant is not due to any lack of encouragement from Bord Fáilte for hoteliers in the lower grades contemplating extensions or improvements. Bord Fáilte must, of course, insist on certain minimum standards, and the Board operate an advisory service for those who need it. The fact that 1,500 extra rooms are now available in Grades B and B/C, in different parts of the country, is proof of a positive promotional policy on the part of Bord Fáilte towards the provision of middle-grade accommodation. The number of applicants, however, have simply not been sufficient.

It will be clear from all this that despite the progress made by the hotel industry in recent years we cannot claim that all problems have been solved or that nothing remains to be done. I, therefore, asked Bord Fáilte some time ago to undertake a complete examination of the whole position in regard to accommodation for visitors. I am anxious to ensure that current needs and requirements are identified and that policies are directed towards meeting those requirements. Bord Fáilte have now carried out this review and have conveyed to me their views as to the manner in which the programme for accommodation should be directed in the future. There are many aspects of this question that must be given careful consideration and these are now receiving my attention.

Whatever the emphasis in future policies, it is clear that the grant schemes must be maintained for a further period. As the original fund of £500,000 has been exhausted new legislation is necessary to enable further moneys to be made available to Bord Fáilte. Grant commitments in the present financial year will amount to over £300,000 and it is necessary to provide at least £350,000 for the continuation of the schemes after this year; that makes about £650,000. Bord Fáilte hope to secure the provision of additional accommodation of the holiday camp or holiday village type and this could involve grants of a further £120,000. In addition, if we find that it is feasible to go ahead with new middle-grade accommodation in resort areas, we would need to have grant moneys available, amounting possibly to £200,000. These figures are of course very tentative but they indicate the possible future requirements. I am proposing, therefore, that a new limit of £1.5 million be placed on the holiday accommodation fund, enabling additional moneys not exceeding £1 million to be paid to Bord Fáilte. Issues from this fund are, of course, subject to my approval and the approval of the Minister for Finance. Moneys paid to the Board from this fund are additional to their annual grant for general activities and to the money voted annually from the special fund for the development of major tourist resorts.

Apart from hotel development, Bord Fáilte are also giving close attention to the position in regard to other forms of accommodation for visitors. Guest houses can obtain assistance for development work under the guaranteed loan and interest grant schemes. In the last few years, Bord Fáilte have extended their activities to take in the inspection and listing of unregistered holiday accommodation and there are now available in respect of almost all the holiday and angling centres lists showing the boarding houses and private houses which offer accommodation for guests as well as houses available for renting by visitors. These lists show a total of 3,370 bedrooms providing room for 5,240 people. Accommodation for visiting students is also being listed, and lists are now available with accommodation for 400 students. The possibilities presented by colleges and other institutions which are vacant for a period during the summer are also being examined. Bord Fáilte now have a list of farmhouses which offer holiday facilities and they hope to develop this type of holiday attraction in future years. Particular attention is being given to the possibilities of enabling the small farm areas of the country to benefit to a greater extent from tourism, and I hope that these developments may also lead to further extensions of An Óige's chain of Youth Hostels.

There is another aspect of the hotel industry which I would like to mention here even though it does not arise specifically from the present Bill, that is, the question of staff training. With the expansion of accommodation the shortage of qualified staff has become a fairly serious problem and, in order to deal with it, Bord Fáilte, in conjunction with the hotel industry, the trade union concerned and vocational educational interests, have established a new organisation to undertake responsibility for an expanded programme of staff recruitment and training. This body is entitled the Council for Education, Recruitment and Training in the Hotel and Catering Trade or, briefly, CERT. Initially, half the cost of this new arrangement will be borne by Bord Fáilte and the balance by the other interests concerned.

Deputies may recall that in March last they agreed to a Supplementary Estimate for tourism which included additional moneys for Bord Fáilte for this purpose. Fairly substantial financial support from Bord Fáilte will be necessary in the early stages to ensure that the expanded training programme gets under way but I would hope that in due course the hotel industry and those engaged in it will assume increasing responsibility for matters pertaining to staff training and that CERT will ultimately evolve into an organisation supported by the hotel industry itself. I would hope that an industry as large and as significant as the hotel and catering industry would aspire to an organisation of professional status concerning itself not only with practical questions of staff recruitment and training but also with the general question of raising professional standards in the industry.

I recognise, however, that the hotel industry is not yet sufficiently organised to undertake anything on this scale at the present time. It is necessary, therefore, that Bord Fáilte should not only give direct financial support in the early stages but should also assist in the collection of the hotel industry's contribution. This has been agreed with the Irish Hotels Federation. I propose, therefore, to authorise Bord Fáilte to take account of the need to provide for the activities of CERT when prescribing registration fees. This will, of course, entail increased fees but I am confident that proprietors of registered premises will recognise and appreciate that the money will be applied towards the provision of qualified personnel for the industry. It must be remembered that the trade union and the vocational education authorities are also prepared to make their contribution. The hotel industry has received, and under this Bill will continue to receive, very substantial State assistance and it is not unreasonable that it should make this contribution towards the solution of the staffing problem.

The hotel industry is more active and enterprising today than at any time in the past. The fact that the £500,000 grant fund provided in 1959 has been exhausted is an indication of the rise in the rate of investment of the industry because the Bord Fáilte grants, being limited to 20 per cent of approved works, must be matched at least four-fold by hoteliers' own spending. In fact total investment in hotel development has been running at more than £1 million each year. There are encouraging signs also that hotel interests and others associated with the tourist trade are prepared to undertake measures to supplement the efforts of Bord Fáilte to develop tourism. There is, of course, a long way to go before the hotel industry can be regarded as fully equipped to meet the challenge of increasing competition and the other difficulties facing the tourist industry. There is a need to adopt up-to-date ideas in regard to lay-out, equipping and management of hotels including more modern methods of accounting and record keeping. Some hotels have come together to engage in co-operative advertising and promotion but there is scope for much more activity of this kind. Hoteliers must be prepared to study available markets and, where necessary, to go out after business, sharing the costs where advisable on a group basis. I know that rising costs are a problem for hoteliers as for everybody else but this makes it all the more important that our hotels should offer comfort, efficiency, and above all good value.

On the question of value, I should make it clear that none of our hotels, not even the Intercontinental Hotels which I referred to earlier, offer accommodation in the luxury category. The new hotels are classifiable by international standards, not as luxury hotels, but as top-grade hotels and they will fill a definite want in our tourist structure. As regards international price comparisons, my attention was drawn recently to a comparison of top-grade accommodation in 22 major cities, carried out by the Financial Times in October, 1962, and according to this comparison only Athens offered lower prices than Dublin.

Figures relating to last year's tourist season, which have become available recently, show that the forebodings which were voiced in relation to a recession in 1962 were not justified. The gross earnings from visitors, including the visitor receipts of Irish transport companies, amounted to £48.9 million, an increase of £2.4m or 5 per cent over the corresponding figure for 1961. Since 1957, when our visitor income was £32.4 million, the increase has been £16.5m. or 50 per cent and, even allowing for the change in money values since then, this represents a very real increase in the value of tourism in the economy. It must be said, however, that the rate of growth in 1962 was lower than over the past five years generally. Returns of hotels and guest-houses show that the number of visitors from the Six Counties and from North America fell by 4 per cent in 1962 but on the other hand hotels recorded 6 per cent more visitors from Britain and 8 per cent more from "other areas". Bord Fáilte believe that the slowing-down of the rate of growth in 1962 was caused by special conditions and they expect the upward trend in the number of visitors to continue. If we are to reap the benefit of this increase it is essential that accommodation be available to meet the needs of all categories of visitors, that traffic should not be diverted from Ireland because accommodation of the requisite kind and at the right price level is not available. The purpose of this Bill is to ensure that the incentives for the provision of the necessary accommodation will continue to operate and I therefore confidently recommend the Bill for the approval of the Dáil.

I want to direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that this Bill is drafted in a most pernicious way, that is, almost entirely by reference, which makes it extremely difficult to find out what the Bill is about when you come to deal with it for the consideration of the House. Indeed, the Minister's speech, giving a general review of the whole situation. does not deal with certain aspects of the matter which I think require comment.

Section 2 (1) of this Bill, which now authorises the payment of sums not exceeding £5 million as the Board shall require, is a development of the original provision made in the 1955 Act which authorised the Board to use £500,000 a year. That placed on the Minister the obligation to come before the House every year to get the appropriate sum voted and provided an occasion for adequate comment on the prudent user of the provision made in the previous year. Now we are giving global authority to lay out £5 million without any further reference to the appropriate machinery of the House. Why we must do that I cannot understand. So far as I know, the House has always been ready to provide money for desirable expenditure on tourist development but it is a healthy thing that the House should be kept constantly informed rather than that we should give global authority which may cover several years without further reference to the House.

We are extending, under Section 4, the period for which the Minister may guarantee the loan. In Section 5, we are reviewing the law as it stands under Section 17 (3) of the Act of 1952. That section of the 1952 Act empowers the Minister to make grants——

I wonder if the Deputy, by any chance, has been given the wrong Bill, as happened to me on one occasion? There are only two sections in this Bill.

I am dealing with the Tourist Traffic Bill——

This is merely a Bill to increase the moneys available——

We are not dealing with the Tourist Traffic Bill?

We are dealing with the Tourist Traffic Bill, 1963, in which there are two sections, one of which says——

That is right; I was dealing with another Tourist Traffic Bill. I was rather surprised to notice that several matters raised here had not been dealt with in the Minister's opening statement.

There are two Tourist Traffic Bills. I was beginning to get into a panic.

On the general question of providing further and better facilities for the development of hotel accommodation, I think there will be pretty general agreement that this Bill should be welcomed. So far as smaller hotels are concerned, I have no reason to believe but that the money will be well spent. I hope it will and I look forward confidently to Bord Fáilte exercising the necessary surveillance in order to ensure that will be done.

When we talk of luxury hotels, I suppose it is true that the new Intercontinental Hotels may not qualify for that qualification in the international understanding of the term but I imagine they do provide as luxurious a standard as our tourist traffic would ordinarily demand. I welcome the proposal to promote, in consultation with the industry itself and the appropriate trade unions, a training scheme for personnel. That is a very useful development and the sooner it proceeds, the sooner we can overcome the chronic shortage of skilled staff. I do not see how it will solve a problem for which I have never heard any satisfactory solution in our circumstances, the demand that naturally exists for skilled hotel staff in the tourist season from, say, the beginning of June to the end of October, and how the staff is to be kept employed from the end of October to 1st June.

I do not know if any scheme could be worked out whereby some of this skilled staff at least could be helped to improve their skills and language qualifications, possibly by seeking employment abroad under suitable schemes with tourist areas in the south of France, or Switzerland or Spain during the winter season, thus ensuring that they would be maintained in remunerative employment and at the same time, affording them an opportunity of acquiring a very valuable asset, at least a bowing acquaintance with foreign languages which is a great additional qualification for a person who aspires to permanent employment in the tourist hotel trade. The aspect of it which most appeals to me is that if you could devise a plan to ensure that people who have made up in their minds to enter the industry in their youth would have a reasonable guarantee of permanent as opposed to seasonal employment, if they are prepared to stake their future on the industry.

There are some details in relation to the full user of hotel accommodation that we aspire to provide to which I want to direct the Minister's attention and, through him, the attention of Bord Fáilte. In my travels abroad, I have always noticed, even when you patronise hotels like the Savoy in London or the Waldorf in New York, which fall into the highest luxury class, the immense importance that hotels of even this standard attach to the conditions of toilet and washroom facilities. Guests lunching or dining in such hotels find that some of the most palatial parts of the establishment are the washrooms into which they are shown. Some hotels go to fantastic lengths in order to create that initial impression on a guest visiting there of the height of luxury associated with equipment and the personnel who attend on toilet and washroom facilities.

I do not think we fully appreciate the immense effect of the initial impact on visitors to Irish hotels, when they come to stay or as transients for meals, of the conditions, equipment and maintenance of the toilet facilities into which they are introduced. I think our hotels might, with very great advantage, revolutionise their approach to the manner in which such facilities are provided. At present in many places the approach is utilitarian rather than public relation. There is a very high degree of public relations associated with this type of accommodation and what must be borne in mind, over and above the type of equipment provided, is that the maintenance of such accommodation in proper condition is a very vital matter.

There is much to be said in many cases in favour of establishments having a purely utilitarian approach to such matters but I think we must revolutionise our understanding of the matter in the tourist hotel trade and realise that visitors will be very largely conditioned in their general approach to the whole subsequent reception they are afforded by the first impact of the washroom facilities provided by the hotel.

I think it is not going into too great detail to mention this point as I have a good deal of experience of travelling the world. Has anybody else noticed how important it is that knives should be sharp? You may provide most excellent food but, furnish your visitors with blunt knives and they persuade themselves that the meat is tough and uneatable. No matter what you subsequently do, they carry away with them the impression that the meat offered is inferior when, very often, it is not the meat but the cutlery that is at fault. The more seasoned amongst us, who are familiar with travel abroad, and who are frequent users of hotels, will rattle on the table for a sharp knife, and get it, but it is quite remarkable, in my experience, the number of people who have been put off the entertainment they have been offered by a hotel, persuaded that it was of inferior quality, when, in fact, the fault was not with the provender but with the instruments by way of cutlery. In my respectful suggestion, it is in details of this kind that immense reform can be achieved in our hotel system particularly in that most important part of the hotel industry which does not fall within the luxury class. I think I am right in saying that in countries like France, Germany and Switzerland, it is on details of this kind that very special emphasis is laid because experience has taught hoteliers in these places how very important they are.

Driving in this country, even at the height of the tourist season, I am frequently struck with one amenity on which sufficient emphasis is not, in my opinion, laid. I was reading recently an issue of a magazine called Holiday, which dealt with Ireland, and I was astonished to read therein a very patronising reference to our road system, the suggestion being that the roads were barely adequate but tolerable. I have travelled a great deal of the world by road and I will hazzard the opinion that, bearing in mind the volume of traffic travelling on the roads the roads in Ireland are as good as in any country in the world. It is perfectly true you will not find in this country the autobahn, the major traffic roads of the United States of America, or the military roads that exist in continental countries; I advisedly say “military” because their size and capacity were dictated mainly by reason of the fact that they were regarded as arteries of military movement. But you will find in this country a vast mileage of roads with excellent surfaces, not as wide as roads in some continental countries and in the United States of America, but with a volume of traffic not much more than one-tenth of what one is likely to encounter on the main traffic arteries in continental countries and the United States of America. This must be one of the last countries in the world, I think, with a fine road system on which it is quite possible to travel two or three miles without ever meeting another vehicle.

That aspect of the tourist amenity in this country is not sufficiently publicised. If one has experienced holiday traffic around tourist centres in Great Britain, in most Continental countries and in the United States of America, and experienced the chaos created by people seeking to go to the sea, a chaos which is regarded as normal, one immediately appreciates the relative ease of moving about here by motor transport and one is persuaded that this is an amenity which we should constantly publicise, in the confident knowledge that, if people realised how great this amenity was here, a very considerable volume of additional tourist traffic would be drawn here of a kind which would be very welcome and which would bring with it a very substantial additional tourist traffic income.

There are very few places in which bumper to bumper conditions are known on our roads. Unless on encounters a race meeting, or some quite exceptional function, they just do not exist here. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that they exist on almost every tourist road in England and on a very high percentage of roads in the United States and elsewhere.

There is no use providing hotel accommodation, particularly in the tourist resorts dependent on motor transport, unless we facilitate the arrival in this country of tourists with their own cars. Perhaps the Minister did not think this an appropriate occasion to go into this question more fully, but I think he might, with propriety, tell us what progress is being made in enabling tourists to bring their cars here. To my mind that is one of the most pernicious bottlenecks with which the tourist industry here is struggling. To bring a car to the Continent is as easy as travelling oneself. To bring a car to Ireland is a most elaborate and difficult operation. I cannot believe that it is beyond the ingenuity of Bord Fáilte and the transport companies to work out a system whereby it will be easy to bring a car to Ireland as it is to bring a car to France from Great Britain. I am prepared to accept that simple yardstick and, if we reach that degree of facility, I shall be content. I should be glad to know what the Minister has to suggest in that regard or what information he has to give us as to future prospects.

The last matter to which I want to refer is the Inland Fisheries Trust. Here again, I justify the reference on the ground that it is not reasonable to urge people to spend money on expanding hotel accommodation unless Bord Fáilte, on its part, exerts itself to bring the tourist traffic into contact with the accommodation provided. To do that, I believe the Inland Fisheries Trust has a very large and growing function to discharge.

One of the strange things about human nature is that, when a body like the Inland Fisheries Trust puts its hand to a job, such as improving fishing facilities in a particular lake, every subsequent fault in that lake is attributed to the Inland Fisheries Trust. Public meetings are held. Letters are written to the newspapers. The Inland Fisheries Trust is held up to odium and contempt. Two or three years later, it transpires that the fruits of the Inland Fisheries Trust work are coming to hand. Are any public meetings held? Not at all. Does anyone write to the paper? Not at all. Deathly silence falls. There is no further reference to the whole business.

I remember very well the Inland Fisheries Trust in the early stages of their operations proceeded to deal with Lough Sheelin and they did a great deal of work on Lough Sheelin, which had deteriorated very much as a fishing lake.

The relevance seems to escape me.

It will be clear in a moment. I want to urge that greater publicity be given to fishing facilities in order to justify investment in hotels and I want to avoid a recurrence of this kind of abuse. I was Minister for Fisheries at the time and after I went out of office the Minister for Fisheries was bombarded with remonstrances, public meetings and denunciations that when the work was completed all the trout in the lake turned into bottom feeders and they would not rise at all. Then a heavy silence fell. I am told Lough Sheelin is now esteemed to be the best dry fly lake in these islands. Does anybody rush to publicise that fact? Not at all. Everyone is oblivious of the fact that all the bad publicity that was doled out to the Inland Fisheries Trust in the early stages is still rolling around and constantly quoted as being a cause for not inviting the Inland Fisheries Trust to continue their work in other areas but nobody comes forward to say now that the work done in the initial stages of the Inland Fisheries Trust is amply vindicated by the results.

I want to reiterate most emphatically my admiration and satisfaction with the work they have carried out. I want to say with the greatest possible emphasis that I am satisfied that 99 per cent of their work has very often involved a waiting period of two or three years before the full fruits of it came to hand. I want to condemn most emphatically the practice of denouncing the work they have done in the waiting period and then lapsing into gloomy silence when the results have come to hand.

I want to say to the Minister that in my judgment, bearing in mind our climatic conditions and our general social atmosphere in this country, one of the most attractive facilities we have to offer to potential tourists who will occupy these hotels which we are now seeking to improve are the fishing facilities in this country, not only in regard to salmon and trout, but the utterly free and uncontrolled fishing facilities available to those interested in coarse fishing such as pike, perch, bream and the like.

I am not at all satisfied that the financial provision being made for the Inland Fisheries Trust is enough. I am not satisfied that the publicity given to these facilities which are available throughout the country is adequate. I believe that the return on the money we are providing for the improvement of hotels would be vastly stimulated and expanded if effective publicity were made available to promote the fishing amenities which are available in extraordinary degree and on such extraordinary terms throughout the length and breadth of this country.

I commend the added provision for the improvement of our hotels to the favourable consideration of the House and I suggest that the detail which I thought it reasonable to bring to the attention of the Minister might with advantage be brought to the attention of Bord Fáilte as well.

This, as I understand it, is a case of asking for more money to give to Bord Fáilte to give to the hotel industry for the provision of additional accommodation. Perhaps, being fair to the Minister, whatever criticism I may offer should start with the Minister's statement on page 2 of his speech. On that page he mentions the advantage we are now getting from these new Intercontinental Hotels in Dublin, Cork and Limerick. Later in his speech he finds pleasure in drawing attention to statistics issued last October showing that the hotel charges in Dublin were comparable with those in Athens, which were the lowest in Europe.

Statistics, of course, can lead one very much astray at times. From our experience of the Minister for Transport and Power and our knowledge of his many statements in the past, both in Government and in Opposition, I would say that no one ever went further astray when dealing with statistics than he has done. I know that these statistics were issued last October but the Minister must realise that there is no justifiable comparison between the Continental hotels and the charges therein and the hotels and the charges therein in this country.

We are told, when being asked to provide extra money, of the value of the new Intercontinental Hotels. Deputy Dillon made no reference to them. The Minister has stated that they are not considered or meant to be considered as luxury hotels. I wonder. I have been told that to stay in the Intercontinental Hotel in Dublin for a night, without supper or breakfast, merely to enjoy the pleasure of sleeping in a bed, costs £4 or over. We are told that that is not a luxury and must not be considered as an unnecessarily high charge.

I suggest that we are going completely out of our depth. We are being moneys which they in turn will use to give grants to various organisations, some of them shareholders in some of these hotels, and in the red themselves. These hotels are able to make these high charges. Perhaps in a few years' time we may wonder why they will not be paying their way.

The Minister has referred to the importance of the tourists from Britain, the type of tourists who would be using our middle class hotels. Would it not be far better to concentrate to a greater extent on the middle class hotels? The Minister has said in his opening speech that there are not sufficient applications from Grade B and Grade C hotels. I do not believe that. I have been told of many instances of proprietors of smaller hotels applying to Bord Fáilte. It would seem that if one looks for £50,000 or £100,000 from Bord Fáilte there is no trouble in getting it. When one looks for something smaller, something reasonable, to help the smaller hotelier one finds, as the Minister said here, certain standards and certain requirements must be complied with. We agree there but the smaller hotelier will find that by the time he is finished with inspections and correspondence from Bord Fáilte, he is at the end of the queue and, as the Minister has said, a good deal of attention is focussed on the building of new top grade accommodation.

I am inclined to take a different line from Deputy Dillon. I am not too concerned with whether a knife in a hotel is sharp. I am far more concerned with some of the conditions under which some staff in some hotels have to work. I do not want to elaborate on that matter. A colleague of mine who has been with the Minister and Bord Fáilte on several occasions—and has not been getting the help I think he should be getting—can discuss it more fully. As a member of a county vocational committee, let me say that, when boys and girls who are entering the hotel business have been trained and have got positions in some hotels, they are not catered for in a proper manner, and they are not paid an adequate wage. We have received many complaints. Unfortunately, there is nothing the committees can do. Perhaps the new organisation, CERT, may be able to do something for them.

Over the past few years, Bord Fáilte knew the conditions prevailing in those hotels and they were well aware of the conditions under which those trainees were working, and the lowly wages they were given in some instances but Bord Fáilte did nothing about it. The Minister has been proud to give figures showing an increase in tourism. Has he been told by Bord Fáilte, or is he aware of the numerous complaints about overcharging? What have Bord Fáilte done about that? If we are speaking about the hotel industry and preparing to give more money for the improvement of hotel accommodation, surely that must be tied up with the important question of overcharging.

With full responsibility and deliberation, may say that Bord Fáilte and some hoteliers connected with them have been trying to hush up complaints about overcharging. While in this Bill the Minister is concentrating on certain aspects of the hotel industry and while he has said that he is awaiting further details from Bord Fáilte about the various holiday centres and the facilities for tourists in various areas through the new system that may be put into operation in regard to accommodation in farm houses, the Minister has said nothing, and apparently does not intend to say anything, about the stranglehold of Bord Fáilte and their attempt to wipe out the premier tourist organisation of this country, the ITA.

This may not be the time to discuss that fully, but the Minister made a statement which made it clear that Bord Fáilte are to have the field to themselves. The Minister knows that no Deputy will ever get from Bord Fáilte, and certainly not from the Minister, any information in regard to salaries and expenses, and the many other items connected with that Board. We can read daily in the newspapers of trips made by members of Bord Fáilte at home and abroad lecturing the people, with the full support of the Minister. The Minister will probably say that when he is introducing another tourist Bill he may give such information.

I do not want to go outside a relevant discussion on this Bill, but I will say that Bord Fáilte and the Minister are damning the tourist industry by giving all to Bord Fáilte, and letting Bord Fáilte do what they like, and by giving grants to people who want to charge £4 or £4. 10 for one night in a hotel without a meal—and we say we want tourism! We all know that the backbone of tourism is the working people who come from Britain. What accommodation are we giving them in these Intercontinental Hotels? How often will those hotels be filled by the so-called tourists who come here by plane from America or anywhere else? If the Minister wants to compare charges he should compare them with hotels of the same standard in other countries and not with more expensive hotels in America, England and elsewhere.

This Bill ties us down so much that we cannot discuss what we should be able to discuss, and we cannot say all that could be said about Bord Fáilte. The Minister may escape because at the rate at which work is proceeding in this House it will probably be next Christmas before the Minister's Estimate comes before us. We may be able to speak more freely when we know that the butcher's knife—not the blunt one about which Deputy Dillon spoke but the butcher's knife in the hands of Bord Fáilte and the Minister —has been wielded on the ITA and on local initiative. We hear officials of Bord Fáilte when they are at home— and it is rarely that some of them are at home—pontificating on the value of tourism. The day will come when the Minister will be brought to task, and Bord Fáilte with him, for the disgraceful manner in which they are trying to disrupt the tourist industry. The Minister said some time ago in a statement to the Press——

On a point of order, the Estimate for my Department will be taken some time in the next few months. You may decide, Sir, that this can be a debate on the Tourist Estimate although I have not given one-tenth of the information which would be required for that purpose. In view of the fact that this Bill is concerned only with increasing the grants available for hotels, I would ask for your views of the breadth of the debate. In accordance with Deputy Desmond's speech we should be having a full-scale debate on the tourist industry. I am in your hands, Sir, and the hands of the House. I have enough material with me to reply to a full-scale debate, although I do not think that is the intention or the general sentiment of the House. I can quite easily reply to the suggestions, proposals, and criticisms which are made if that is necessary, but I should like to have your views.

The Bill asks the House to increase the aggregate amount of money which may be paid to Bord Fáilte for a specific purpose. I do think, however, that unnecessary opportunity is being taken to enlarge the scope of the debate.

I have never questioned the rulings of the Chair, and I have no intention of doing so now. When Deputy Dillon spoke about inland fisheries at Lough Sheelin, the Minister did not worry, apparently because it suited him. I am not questioning Deputy Dillon's right to speak but I made it clear—and I am standing by my word—that I would not extend the discussion outside the limits of the Bill. The Minister has said on a point of order that we will be dealing with his Estimate in a few months' time. We all know the House adjourns about the end of July and the Minister will be far from this House for a few months after that. Even if it goes to December the Minister will want to give a lot more information to the House. He will want to bring every note he has and all the backing he has in Bord Fáilte to justify the elimination of the ITA.

There is a lot of money involved in this and I am not at all sure that the Minister in his proposals here is dealing with the situation as adequately as he should, in the light of the figures which he has given in his own opening speech and which have been at the disposal of many of us for some time now.

The most important figures are those which refer to the type of hotel accommodation which has been provided over the past five years and I suppose the most significant figures are those given for grade D. I did not get a copy of the Minister's speech but it is quite obvious from the figures for the various categories, 1,800 rooms for Grade A, 1,500 for grades B and B/C and so on, that this is a very serious development because, proportionately, there should be a very considerable increase in the last category, grade D, bearing in mind the fact that our main pool of tourists is in Britain and to a very much lesser extent on the Continent. If we are to continue to draw on that pool to the extent we did in the past, quite clearly there should be a very considerabe increase in that type of accommodation. The increases which occurred in grades A, B and B/C were only relatively good.

Tourism in Ireland is one of the most problematical — and becoming more problematical — enterprises in which the State engages. It is becoming more problematical for the reason that very dramatic changes have taken place in the whole pattern of tourism now adopted by the people of Britain. I think Most Rev. Dr. Lucey was perfectly right when he said that the main tourist to Ireland was the returned emigrant. I do not care what Bord Fáilte or anybody else says, I am sure that is so. I am sure it is so because I cannot imagine any reason why anybody should turn his back on the coasts of France, Spain, Portugal, Yugoslavia, Greece, or of any other of these Continental countries to which people are attracted not for the beauty of the land but because they possess a fairly consistent level of sunshine.

I think the Taoiseach put his finger on it at a golf match in Dollymount in the summer of 1957 when he said: "I hope you are all enjoying the lovely summer. The last one we had was ten years ago." Admittedly, it was a lighthearted reference but climate is an important factor in trying to develop tourism. It is not a question of accommodation so much as a question of climate. From the point of view of developing tourism we have one of the worst climates that is conceivable in Europe and I believe the only reason why people tended to come here in such numbers in the past was because they had some blood link with the land. Because there has been such high emigration there were many who wanted to come back in the first year and in the second year, less in the third year and still less as time went on. The fact that we are not getting anything like the same number of tourists as heretofore is a disturbing trend.

Another obvious factor in this decrease in the growth of tourism is that in Great Britain the standard of living of the people has improved very considerably. There has been a tremendous upsurge in the realisation on the Continent of the value of tourism. We make something like £50 million out of tourism, which is a very considerable part of our national budget. That goes even more so for many of the Continental countries and they have decided to cash in on the fact that they have much greater natural advantages than we have to attract tourists. With the tremendous effect of their propaganda and the fact that a satisfied tourist brings three or four the next year, the numbers multiply endlessly. The British worker has lost his fear of going abroad. Many of our own people lost their ties with the home country and they lost their fear of not being able to speak the Continental languages. Package tours with couriers made it possible for them to go abroad and they have been facilitated in not coming to Ireland. I believe the problem is very much more complicated than that put forward by the Minister, that it is merely a question of hotel accommodation.

I find it very frightening that the Minister appears to be taking it in that light because this is certainly one of the most important money making Departments of State and if the decline goes on—and a decline is a slow rate of growth, effectively—we might find ourselves in very serious straits from the point of view of the national income. Therefore, the Minister has to take this present lack of luxuriant growth in our tourist trade much more seriously to heart and must examine the whole question much more profoundly than he appears to have done.

I believe we have done two things. Not only have we tended to make it relatively unpleasant to come to Ireland—it is certainly not over-attractive for the outsider to come to Ireland—but we have in many cases made it attractive to our own people to get out. To a large extent, as well as losing the outsider coming in, we are losing our own people who are tending to go out or at least tending to try to get out. This undesirable development is one which I do not think will be arrested readily by this business of increasing the hotel accommodation.

I do not think there is any real money to be made out of the luxury type tourist. I do not know why people bother to come to Dublin. Except for the impending likelihood of the close down of Shannon and the likelihood that there might be overnight Americans in Dublin as a result of flying to Dublin rather than Shannon, I cannot see why these tremendous hotels, the Ballsbridge hotel and the Hilton hotel, were built. They seem to be a very debatable investment except for that provision, because on the whole these people tend to go for the sort of entertainment which we do not provide in Dublin. I do not regret in any way that we cannot provide them. We cannot provide these water sports, for example, acqua planing and the like such as they engage in in the south of France, in Portugal or in Spain. Then there is the exotic kind of night life, night clubs and casinos which we do not provide here, so that I do not know why very wealthy people would bother to come to Dublin in large numbers or even to Ireland. They might possibly come for a certain amount of fishing or for hunting in the winter but that represents only a marginal type of increase in tourism. The money to be made by us is to be made from the ordinary middle income, white collar worker, the manual worker in Great Britain, and to a lesser extent outside it. It is very difficult to conceive how people in France, Belgium, or in such countries as Greece or Yugoslavia, from where it would be costly to get to Dublin, will be induced to come in large numbers to Ireland particularly because of the weather.

We have just shivered through June when we had a particularly high rainfall, and now the prospects, if the American long-range weather forecasts are accurate, are that we are going to have a particularly wet July. Those are the realities. It is a pity, because nobody likes bad weather and it is the big disadvantage in the attempt to provide any kind of nationally financed and useful tourist industry. I am afraid the fact is that more than anything else one needs to provide for shelter out of the rain. That is one thing which is required to make our seaside resorts generally attractive. Provide your hotel and guesthouse accommodation but ensure also that the people have certain basic amenities in order to help them to pass the time at our seaside resorts. Too much emphasis has been laid on the idea of providing hotel accommodation and feeling that that is the whole job.

I share Deputy Desmond's belief that hotel charges are extraordinarily high for the average person. It is only with the greatest trepidation that any white collar worker goes into an hotel for an evening or mid-day meal. It is quite a frightening ordeal because of the hotel charges. One development which the hoteliers themselves noticed was the tourist strike in regard to hotel accommodation. The tourist decided that he would not stay in the hotels and he kept to the road in his tent or in his caravan. The great expansion of the caravan trade is one example of the resistance on the part of the tourists. It is their reply to the exploitation which went on in the hotels in regard to charges.

The people are not coming not just because of lack of accommodation but because the amenities are not being provided in the hotels and outside them. They do not get the amenities anywhere and the result is we have seaside resorts which could be developed if the weather is there, and which are then extremely attractive with all amenities such as swimming and so on, but little or no provision is made by Bord Fáilte or by the hotel keepers to provide the amenities which are essential when people cannot enjoy bathing or outdoor types of sport. If the Minister is spending more money to attract people and to help them to be more comfortable when they come, he will have to give much more thought to the provision of better, more interesting and entertaining outside attractions which probably are not necessarily in continental resorts. I am afraid I cannot help him very much in regard to how he should set about that but it is a very special problem here and it is becoming more difficult because of the counter-attractions on all sides.

He can, of course, point to the expansion of coarse fishing, the expansion on the Shannon and so on, but, generally speaking, we are beginning to lose out in this tremendous cut-throat battle for tourists. I do not think this £1½ million will provide the answer. I suspect that the grants are given with too little discrimination as to how they will be used, as to whether they will be used in the best interests or in the special interest of the individual who gets the grant. Deputy Desmond mentioned the exploitation of labour in these places. Generally speaking, I think that is true, that there is exploitation. Deputy Mullen would know very much more about that than I do, but one thing I should like to refer to is the attempt to exploit student-type labour. These people, untrained youngsters, are given conditions of employment which should not be tolerated.

I feel that particular point is outside the scope of the debate and would be relevant on the Estimate.

I was only referring to it in passing. The grants to hotels should be given with discretion and not merely to successful businessmen who decide that they will go into the hotel business because they think there is money in it. There should be some attempt made to assess the likelihood of the hotelier running the hotel efficiently so that he will make the guests comfortable and see that they are so satisfied that they will come back again. Running a hotel is a very special enterprise. I should imagine one's background and experience would have to be very comprehensive indeed before one participated in the tremendous amount of money that has been given out recently to many hotels.

It is quite obvious that money is not being spent in the right way in a number of our tourist resorts. In some of them, money is being spent reasonably well—in Galway, in Greystones, in Arklow and to some extent, in Howth—but I do not know why anybody in his senses goes back a second time, no matter what the hotel accommodation is like, to a place like Bray, for instance, which has always struck me as being surely one of the most squalid and sordid resorts in Europe. Potentially one of the finest, with natural amenities possibly unequalled in Europe, no serious attempt is made to make conditions for visitors in any way attractive at Bray.

There is a major scheme going through there.

I should be glad if the Minister would tell us about that scheme. Last Whit, which was quite fine, I saw from 3,000 to 5,000 visitors there—that is only a personal estimate —and I doubt very much if any of those people will return there. For all those people milling about, as far as I know, there is no toilet on the seafront. As the Minister knows, the harbour is an open sewer: it is dirty, filthy, muddy. It fell into the sea recently during a gale and nobody bothered to do anything about it. The beach to the north has a drop of between four and 20 feet.

There is nothing in this Bill for major resort improvement. Though I can reply to all these questions, it will enormously extend the debate. There is a £35,000 scheme for the harbour at Bray, but we are going far beyond the ambit of the debate in discussing this and it will mean a double discussion now and later on the Estimate.

This discussion does not relevantly arise here. The Bill relates to the provision of money for a specific object—the development of holiday accommodation.

Would this not come under the heading of "general amenities"?

The Bill relates to money for hotels for the improvement of their premises, the addition of rooms, et cetera. A debate on Bray or any other tourist resort does not relevantly arise.

While I am not advocating the cause of any particular resort, the Ceann Comhairle ruled, before you took the Chair, Sir, that once the giving of money was involved, he would not rule the debate too tightly.

I am ruling on this point——

The Ceann Comhairle was ruling on the Irish Tourist Board versus An Bord Fáilte.

That is the point I am making—there is no question here of improving the major resorts.

The Ceann Comhairle ruled that because there was expenditure of money, he would not restrict the debate. It was on a question of Lough Sheelin raised by Deputy Dillon.

The Chair is not ruling strictly, but in view of the fact that the Estimate will be before the House and that there will then be plenty of scope to discuss major resorts——

It seems to me a matter of urgency, in view of the failure of the Tourist Board to discharge their responsibility, to do something in this particular case. My general view—and that is what I am trying to put here— is that it is a waste of money to spend £1½ million more on hotel accommodation of one kind or another if the people will not go to the hotels because something is not done about the resorts.

The Deputy may be right, but in view of the fact that no money is being voted in this Bill for the purpose of improveing the seaside resort,s cannot see how the question can relevantly be discussed.

Does it not affect the hotels concerned at the seaside resorts?

That may be so, but the Chair is concerned only with the Bill and there is nothing I can do but rule according to precedent.

The amenities have not been provided by the responsible authorities and because of that. I feel this money should not be voted to the Minister until he is made aware of that.

The better amenities referred to by the Deputy would not be provided by the hotels. They would be provided otherwise and in view of the fact that there is no mention in the Bill of those resorts, the matter cannot be ruled to be in order.

We were given figures about the failure of the growth of tourism and I feel we would be within our rights in discussing the validity of the figure being sought by the Minister. I say it is invalid in fact, and I am trying to prove it.

The Deputy is going far from the Bill when he tries to discuss improvements to Bray.

I am seeking to discuss improvements of conditions——

These would not be provided by the hotels and this Bill is to provide money to promote extra hotel accommodation.

I believe the Minister is afraid of a debate; I believe he wants to restrict the debate. You, Sir, appear to be giving that to him. That makes a travesty of the idea of discussing a Bill giving money unless we are allowed to discuss it in the broad terms allowed by the Ceann Comhairle. I protest, Sir, against your partisan attitude. I shall resume my seat. I shall leave the House.

Deputy Dr. Browne withdrew from the Chamber.

I am not trying to keep Deputies from discussing what is in the Bill but if Deputies want to roam all over the tourist industry, then the Chair must take action.

I was under the impression this debate was open, but now that you have ruled it is not an open debate on tourism, I must confine myself to what you say I should, that is, the matter of hotels and of providing accommodation in them. Even the Minister's supporters in this House have criticised his action in fostering by grant, by loan and other encouragement, the building of luxury hotels. I find myself in the extraordinary position of backing up the Minister in this. It is well known that Bord Fáilte have put up hotels in various parts of the country. They improved the standard. It was a good idea. There is a demand for them. I am glad to note, whenever I visit one, that business is usually brisk, often to capacity.

In addition to looking after hotels, we must bear in mind the importance of looking after boarding houses. I am glad to note that this Bill covers that point. However, there is a snag. People with only two or three rooms and who would do them up beautifully will not qualify because they must have five or more rooms. That, I fear, is a mistake. The Minister should give his inspectors or his agents discretion so that for a house in a tourist resort or even in the country, near good fishing, it will be possible to give a grant and a loan as in the case of the large guesthouse or the large or luxury hotel.

The magazine Holiday was mentioned. I saw the number of the magazine in question. I often wonder who meets these people. I am sick of this type of tourist promotion whether the journal in question be Holiday, The Saturday Evening Post, Look, and so on: I have seen all of these.

Some time ago, the Minister called together a representative group from Waterford, Wexford, Tipperary and Kilkenny. It would seem as if a confederacy had been set up and that these four counties had seceded from this State, to judge by the articles and the picture that appeared afterwards. Mention was made of Ardmore but there was no reference to the county in which it is situated. They had to include Cashel: they were on their way to the west.

Does it arise on the Tourist Traffic Bill?

I come from that area. We have five noble rivers in these four counties. One would think there was only one river in this country so far as Holiday and Tourist Board promotion are concerned because we must bear in mind that the people who came here to write that article must have been in touch with the Tourist Board.

The Minister mentioned the training of boys and girls for hotel work. That is very important. I have noticed in hotels that our training staff have poise. In addition, having done the course, they retain that great asset in an Irish hotel, namely, that the visitor knows he or she is really welcome. The smaller the hotel, the more personal it becomes. It is good that our boys and girls who do a course in hotel training are encouraged to preserve that natural feeling of goodwill towards visitors.

Something will have to be done in relation to public conveniences. More care could be taken in respect of the cleanliness of washrooms in many of our hotels. Carelessness in this matter can leave a very bad impression on visitors. Within the past year, I was at two public gatherings in the country and the less said about the public conveniences the better. Officers of the Tourist Board must be watchful in this respect and report to the Minister whenever necessary. If the matter should fall outside the province of the Minister for Transport and Power, he should approach the Minister for Local Government about it so as to have the matter remedied without delay.

Accommodation in hotels is not just enough: there must be some gaiety and amusement, too. It is not pleasant to enter a hotel and to find the residents listening to what I would describe as British Sunday night music and a mournful air, generally, pervading the whole place. That often happens in the early part of the holiday season which is the very time we are trying to attract more tourists. Those running hotels, guesthouses and boardinghouses in small resorts might, with definite advantage, be called together by the Minister's officials with a view to having organised amusements. Years ago, before there was any tourist board, they had an arrangement in Lisdoonvarna whereby one hotel would act as host for the night. The people in all the other hotels would go to that hotel after dinner. There would be a dance, a concert, a sing-song and supper. That is a good idea which I would commend to the Minister.

I have heard complaints that our hotels are too dear. I am not a hotelier nor have I any interest in hotels. I think that, on the whole, Irish hoteliers give good value in comparison with places abroad. I have heard Irish people complaining about what they had to pay in places at home. Yet these same people gladly allow themselves to be plucked by the Italians in Rome and plundered by the French in Paris when they are charged three times the price for some questionable meal.

I am very glad the Deputy is throwing some light on this question. Very great damage can be caused to us by having these comparative prices wrongly described. From what I can learn by reading hotel guides abroad, I believe the Deputy is perfectly correct. There is no large scale inflation of prices here so far as any grade of hotel is concerned compared with a great number of countries in Europe.

The Minister can be assured that I shall always speak my mind. He has experience of it before. I am glad that the age of miracles has come to pass and that the Minister for Transport and Power and myself can agree about something. What I have said is a fact. I have experienced it myself. I have heard people say how terrible it was that they had to pay a shilling for a mineral in some Irish seaside resort. I would not consider that too much to pay on a crowded day. This resort might have only two or three crowded days in a year, and these people have to pay taxes for the whole year. A shilling for a mineral is not too much when you consider you can be charged 24/- for four orange juices in Rome. That happened to me. I was in the company of a very great churchman and we were accompanied by two young priests. I asked him if he would like to sit and have a cool drink and he replied he would be delighted. When I asked "Quanto?" the Romans looked at me straight in the eye, as much as to say: "You must pay because of the company you are in," and I had to pay my 24/-. My friend drank his orange juice and said : "You must remember that the Romans were levying tribute from the Barbarians 2,000 years ago, and they are doing it still."

You had better keep out of Rome or you will die a poor man.

The Deputy is pointing the moral I am trying to make. I am trying to teach the people that when they are charged 1/- for the same thing at home, they have not too much reason for complaint. I have heard visitors here say they were charged up to 10/- for a meal with a steak. On questioning them further, I found they had an enormous steak for which they would have to pay £1 across the water.

I am sorry to interrupt the Deputy, but I feel the question of hotel charges and charges for meals would not relevantly arise on this Bill.

Where are the people going to get the money to keep their hotels open? This is very important.

It may be very important but it does not arise on this Bill.

I would again ask the Minister to consider the position of the small guesthouses and of houses which cannot be classified as guest-houses because they have not sufficient rooms but whose owners would be prepared to modernise their houses and take in people for the fishing season or in a resort area. I would ask the Minister to deal with them when replying and tell me what he is going to do about them.

As we are being asked to give money to Bord Fáilte through the medium of this Bill, I think we are entitled to say to the Board what we think ought to be done in order to improve the facilities available for the tourists who come here. I have raised in this House before, and I want to raise again, the question of the condition of the Grand Canal. The Grand Canal flows through this city. I do not know of any other city in Europe which would allow a waterway such as the Grand Canal to be used for the purpose it is being used today. It is a cemetery of dead dogs, dead cats and other small animals of that variety, of old wheels, hoops, bedsteads, old baths and anything that will sink. All this debris is dumped into the Grand Canal which ought to be a first-class waterway. Anybody who goes to Bruges knows the use made of the canals there; anybody who goes to Paris knows the use made of the Seine; anybody who goes to Berlin knows the use made of the Spree; anybody who goes to London knows the delightful trips you can have on the Thames, right up to some of the beauty spots along that excellent river.

The development of the Grand Canal is not relevant. The Bill provides for the accommodation of tourists and for additional income to hotels, but the question of holiday resorts and the question of the Grand Canal are not relevant.

I am not raising any question of major holiday resorts. The Minister said in his introductory speech:

Issues from this fund are, of course, subject to my approval and the approval of the Minister for Finance. Moneys paid from this fund are additional to the annual grant for general activities and other money voted annually from the special fund for the development of major tourist resorts.

This Bill, then, is providing with other moneys all merged together, the means to put Bord Fáilte in funds to enable them to create conditions which will induce tourists to come here and provide them with amenities. I do not propose to delay on this but the Minister should get the directors of Bord Fáilte together and tell them that the Grand Canal is a shame, that the weeds should be cut, the debris removed; that coarse fish should be put into it and it should be made attractive not only for tourists but for the people of this city generally who would enjoy the facilities the Canal can provide inexpensively, and for a large section of people who sometimes live in dreary surroundings along its banks.

While we must take all necessary steps to ensure hotel accommodation is provided of the standard required for tourists, apparently one of the steps taken in the past twelve months or so was the provision of the Intercontinental Hotel at Ballsbridge. I suppose the Tourist Board have been able, with the owner of the capital which constructed the hotel, to assess its suitability for tourists, what is suitable and what is not. I do not know who is responsible but what is not suitable is the style of the hotel. It is about the ugliest hotel ever built in the country. It looks like a mountain of concrete and the view it presents to passers-by on the main road is about the worst you can find in Dublin. If you can find any worse it is the concrete box which is masquerading as offices and is used by Bord Fáilte at Baggot Street Bridge. That is the second worst building to go up in this country in the past 40 years. I think the hotel easily gets first place. We are just putting up these structures at the same time as we are discussing pulling down a magnificent Georgian facade in Fitzwilliam Place and Fitzwilliam Street.

The guest at the Intercontinental Hotel may carry away a pleasant memory of the food he ate or a nice picture of the Rhine wine he has taken there but when he looks at the hotel he will for all time remember he was probably housed in one of the worst-looking hotels ever seen. I have travelled most countries of the world and I have never seen a hotel like it going up in my time. Something should be done to put some sort of front on it even now, to save it from that hideous concrete effect.

I think you are dealing with dynamite in discussing overcharging. If we acknowledge that there is overcharging, it will be relatively simple to convince the tourist he is being overcharged all the time. I want to deal with the matter briefly and dispassionately. At the end of every tourist season letters have appeared in the papers, signed in many cases by tourists who have been here, setting down what they consider to be the facts of the situation and indicating that they have been overcharged. On the statements made by some of them they appear to have been overcharged: in other cases what they were charged is probably what other people pay every day in the week. If one letter appears in a newspaper about overcharging and the paper has a circulation of 50,000 or 100,000 the publicity is enormous and the damage equally so. Half-a-dozen such letters over a week, a fortnight or a month may almost amount to a campaign about overcharging of tourists.

Wherever such complaints arise Bord Fáilte should follow them up. Perhaps they do where full information is given, but they should also announce later, even by advertisement, the result of the investigation. It is unfair that tourists should be overcharged but it is also unfair that a large number of honest hoteliers, restaurateurs and guesthouse owners should be dubbed as potential over-chargers when, in fact, they charge in accordance with the prices set out on the menu or make a reasonable charge for the reasonable food and service they provide. We should get after those guilty of overcharging. Bord Fáilte can do that and in every instance should announce the result of its inquiries. We must protect the tourist on one hand and on the other make sure that honest people who run hotels, guest-houses and restaurants will not be labelled in a class in which they do not belong.

I see no reason why any tourist who feels he is overcharged should pay what he considers to be unreasonable. He should instead be asked to give his name and address to the people who supply the commodities for which overcharging is alleged and let the matter be settled afterwards by discussion between Bord Fáilte and the people who provided the disputed goods or services. Our main consideration is to ensure that overcharging does not damage the tourist trade.

Everybody who has referred to the Shannon as a potential holiday resort in recent years mentioned the immense possibilities it offers in the way of a boating holiday comparable with the Norfolk Broads, the facilities it provides for game shooting and fishing. All these have brought the Shannon into public view more clearly than formerly. When I was Minister for Industry and Commerce, I asked CIE to put a couple of tourist boats on the Shannon and use them to transport holiday makers from Killaloe up to Boyle. It was not easy to induce them to do that: they did not think it was their job to provide transport on the Shannon: they did not seem to want to have anything to do with the operation of boats there; they did not think it was their job to encourage tourism and, generally, they would have been better pleased not to have been asked to undertake the task.

I feel that a tying-up of holiday boats on the Shannon with a transport service operating from Dublin, on the one hand, and Galway on the other, would be an ideal method of ensuring that customers were available at all times to use the boats. CIE, by means of a linked holiday, that is a river holiday and railway trip, would be able to ensure that there would be sufficient passengers for the boats while, at the same time, because of the existence of the boats, attracting traffic to the railways. It is some time now, probably all of six years, since the first two boats were put on the Shannon. I understand that they are very well patronised and it is quite difficult to get bookings on them at certain periods.

That is an aspect that might be considered with a view to seeing whether additional boats, located at Boyle and Killaloe, could not be provided. I have heard of cases where people tried to book the boats but could not get them. They were consequently forced to abandon their contemplated trip. More boats would find customers and the fact that these customers would have to travel to Athlone, Boyle or Killaloe would help CIE to get the revenue of which they stand in so much need. Putting boats on the Shannon encouraged the establishment of boatbuilding classes. There is room for still further development in this regard. Small boats could be made and hired out to those who come here for coarse fishing holidays. The boatbuilding classes which have been established at points along the Shannon have been successful. I saw some of the work. It was a credit to them. It offers the possibility of a lucrative income.

The question of boatbuilding would be a matter for another Minister.

I have finished with that. Deputy Dr. Browne raised the question of the general suitability of the country for tourist purposes. The problem before this House and the problem before Bord Fáilte is to find out where is our best potential market. I have always held the view that the British worker is our best potential tourist. There are 53,000,000 people in Britain. The British worker is close to us. He can get here relatively cheaply and relatively easily. He knows our people. He has probably met them here and in England. He has a certain familiarity with the country. The language does not present any difficulties. Currency is the same. If he wants to have a fishing or shooting holiday he can find accommodation in the provinces, cheaper accommodation than he will find in the cities. He will not waste time getting to and from his destination because both countries are easily accessible to one another. Propaganda beamed on attracting the British tourist here is well directed propaganda. If we could send teams to Britain to address meetings on the possibilities and attractions of holidays in Ireland we should be able to get and retain a substantial number of British tourists.

On the other hand, we have a vast American tourist potential. There are 185,000,000 people in the United States and according to the last official figures I saw, there are about 20,000,000 of Irish birth or extraction. The greatest hope all of them have is that some day they will get a chance to come back here or to visit here. I think the reasons why they do not visit are largely economic. Price levels in America are high. Rents are high. In the long run the ordinary American worker has very little money to spend on holidays, especially if those holidays involve long travel. What we have to remember is that we do not want them all to come here. We would be well satisfied with a small proportion.

Five per cent of the 20,000,000 of Irish birth or extraction would mean 1,000,000 visitors in one year; 2½ per cent would mean 500,000 visitors. If we could get, and this does not seem unreasonable, one per cent paying one visit to the homeland we should get approximately 200,000 visitors. I do not think that is an impossible number to aspire to but we will only achieve it as a result of careful planning, well directed planning, and the beaming of propaganda through Irish bodies in America which could organise tours and excursions to this country. That would mean a substantial tourist invasion from America alone. I do not think what is done by Bord Fáilte or the airlines at the moment is adequate if we are to exploit successfully that tourist potential. Some consideration should be given to the question of sending regular delegations to talk to the Irish societies in America, to large bodies and groups interested in Ireland. I say that for three reasons: first, to give them an image of the real Ireland instead of the fanciful image many have of this country; secondly, the mission might also lay bare the obvious attractions of this country for the hard-pressed and extremely busy American executive, emphasising the tonic properties a holiday here would have for such people. Our shooting and fishing could be mentioned. On top of all that, American industrialists could be sounded on the possibility of utilising this country as a place for the manufacture of commodities in relation to which they have all the necessary technical skill. I do not think delegations of that kind would be expensive but if they were sufficiently well equipped with the facts and could make the right contacts in America, in the course of time we should be able to build up a much stronger attraction towards this country amongst potential American tourists.

That latter suggestion which I have made has never been tackled. It must be tackled on the basis of trying to get people from this country to use influence, by means of talks and lectures, on large and influential bodies in the hope that these bodies may be stimulated and converted into recruiting organisations for the organisation of holidays in Ireland, tours in Ireland, even if the visit to Ireland involves only a short stay and the tourists go on to see other parts of Europe, as many of them want to do.

On the first page of his speech the Minister indicates that there are 20 per cent grants available for the construction and improvement of accommodation for staff. I am just wondering how far will that go. Is that the limit of the Minister's interest in staff and what exactly does he mean by "accommodation"? I would be very much afraid that this can boomerang. Are we just going to invite the hoteliers to advert to grants for the purpose of improving staff accommodation in hotels and at the same time have them trap the staff in the hotels, have them at their beck and call night, noon and morning?

Would the Minister not be prepared to go a little further than this offer of a grant and indicate that a condition attaching to the grant in relation to improving the other part of their business would be that the proprietors would undertake to treat their staff properly by way of wages and conditions? I do not think it is asking too much to have that done. There is no denying the fact that it will not ease the problem if you just simply improve staff quarters. Years ago in this country big drapers used to take staff in and never let them out. They would feed them, bed them and keep them working. The same thing can develop in the hotel industry.

I would like it to be realised that all staff do not live in. The majority of staff live out. A matter that is crying out for attention is the question of working hours and rates of pay applicable to staff.

When I talk about staff, I mean staff from the top to the bottom. I mean trainee management, official staff, people who pay fees to gain entry to hotels and find that they are getting meagre hand-outs at the end of the week on which to live. A continuance of this thing will wreck the tourist industry. If you have dissatisfied staff, discontented people, you will not make progress in the catering or tourist industry. We know, for instance, that there is a dearth of catering workers at the moment. The major cause of that is the treatment being extended to staff.

The Minister referred to the Intercontinental Hotels and said:

The Intercontinental Hotels will form part of an international chain of hotels and will enjoy the active support of the sales and promotional effort of the Irish Air Companies, who are the largest shareholders, and of Pan American Airways who are associated with the project through their subsidiary company, Intercontinental Hotels Incorporated.

It is quite true to say that the Irish Air Companies have the biggest share in the Intercontinental Hotels but I would like the Minister to indicate to the House to what extent it is visualised that Pan American Airways will help in bringing business to this country. Is it true that they have taken out in fees almost what they initially put into the Intercontinental Hotel in Dublin? It has been said that they have taken out in fees £200,000 before the hotel got started. It has allegedly done this. My understanding is that one of the ideas in encouraging Intercontinental Hotels to come to this country and operate here was to bring business into the country and to develop business apart from the hotels themselves, not only to give employment in the hotels, but by bringing tourists here, to put more money into circulation. I imagined that, indirectly, they would create employment for people in other industries but their activities do not indicate that. Could Intercontinental Hotels not be persuaded to buy Irish, be Irish, sell Irish? Is there any reason why these people should be allowed, and encouraged if you like, to buy foreign goods instead of Irish goods? They will not buy Irish-manufactured boxes of matches. They import them from the United States of America. It is the same in regard to some of the fish they use. Surely that is not the way to promote an Irish hotel. These people should be told what is expected of them. If there is any commodity that can be got in this country for such hotels it should not be bought outside the country. Irish money was not put into these hotels for the purpose of building up industry outside Ireland.

Reference has been made to luxury hotels. I agree with the Minister's interjection that such references can be very harmful, particularly when they are made to prices. The Minister is responsible to a great extent for the kick-up that occurs now and again in relation to prices. There is control to a certain extent but the Minister should introduce a system whereby the old complaint in connection with prices, particularly á la carte prices, can be dealt with. Give Bord Fáilte power to deal with these matters and then we will get rid of the few contemptible people who are indirectly setting out to ruin the tourist industry.

The Minister referred to organised tours. Organised tours are very necessary but there is need for a check on the formation of organised tours. There should be an understanding that the people who organise these tours will give the service they set out to give and if they fail to do so will accept the responsibility. Just as hoteliers are registered and obliged to conform to conditions, travel agencies should be called on to register. The travel agency can make or break the tourist industry. There are far too few competent travel agencies operating in this country and far too many incompetent ones operating because of the absence of control.

A Deputy spoke this afternoon in terms of efficiency and what a hotelier should be and what a hotelier should not be. Since we must all realise the value of hotel keeping to the tourist industry we should make sure that the people who participate in it, the people who are given facilities by way of grants, are competent and, above all, the people who direct the affairs of the hotels, the management, should have a certificate of competence.

The Minister referred to staff training. There is no doubt that staff training is becoming more and more important for many reasons. I think its real importance is because the tourist industry has become so highly competitive. I certainly welcome the move which has been made by the Minister to set up CERT. If it gets a proper chance, and if it gets the co-operation it deserves from all sides of the industry, it will be successful. I am satisfied that CERT will be the answer to many of our problems in regard to competent staff handling.

In relation to increasing the grants for improving different parts of hotels, it is about time we started taking stock and asked ourselves are we doing the right thing. When we improve the front of an hotel, does it get the business we desire it to get? What has been the effect on hotels which have been improved in the past few years? Have they been successful? Is any account rendered as to the effect on its business of the improvement of part of the hotel? Having regard to what has happened after the setting up of the three Intercontinental Hotels and their effect on business, there should be more thinking about whether or not we should increase the number of the bedrooms that are available. Unfortunately, it is true that the hotels in Dublin are not full now.

That is a serious situation. We anticipate that there will be another big hotel out in Santry next year. Are we to close down the existing hotels and leave the business for a few new hotels? Within the past few weeks a group of Americans were booked into a hotel in this city, and that hotel received a few hours' notice that 50 of them were being diverted to the Intercontinental Hotel. There is no sense in that.

The Minister would have no responsibility in connection with hotel bookings.

The Minister is advocating granting money to improve hotel premises and to build more bedrooms. I am wondering is that necessary. All the indications at the moment are that the Intercontinental Hotel was not necessary, and if it is to take its business from someone else it is not necessary.

I seriously ask the Minister to be very careful about encouraging the building of more hotels until complete stock is taken of the existing situation, and an assurance is given that the people who work in the hotels will be properly treated.

I welcome any progress that can be made in the tourist industry. I was disappointed that the last speaker said we have reached saturation point in regard to hotels. I do not think we have. A man in my constituency organised a holiday camp in 1947 under his own steam, and he got customers to come to that camp where there were almost 400 bedrooms. I should like official recognition to be given to people like that who, under their own steam, built their own hotels, and went abroad and got tourists to come to this country. They are the greatest heroes we have. They are the heroes who have contributed a great deal to reducing our adverse trade balance. They did not depend on anyone else. Those who got grants and help from the State should get into the international field and try to encourage people to come here.

Some day I hope to see a list created by this House of citizens who contributed something to an industry, and the tourist industry is one such industry. In that field we should show our appreciation to the citizens of outstanding ability who have contributed something worthwhile to building up the economy of the nation and who have received no grants from any source.

I presume the Deputy is referring to the emigrants who came home.

The Deputy is not referring to the emigrants who came home.

Emigrants who come home every year.

The Deputy is referring to people who brought others from England, Scotland, Wales, America and other countries. They were not Irish people. They were visitors who came here as a result of the propaganda and selling power of the people to whom I refer. Of course, the Deputy and I were selling ourselves for years, but we have not got very far with it. The man to whom I referred earlier, and whose name I do not wish to mention across the floor of the House, did the job himself. He had no contacts except the contacts he made himself in the factories in England, Scotland and Wales. He brought people to this country. Naturally, he had to prove that he was able to meet people and get them to come here, and succeed in bringing them back year after year. Such a man is worth something to the country, instead of people who say that people will not come to their hotel because there is an Intercontinental Hotel down the road and another hotel being built in Santry. We must realise that tourism is one of our main industries and we must be as courteous as possible and try to bring people back again.

There was a reference to the prices being charged in some hotels. It is a matter of serious regret to public men, and everyone else with national aspirations, that such a state of affairs should exist here. They are killing the goose that is laying the golden eggs and they are endangering their own livelihoods, as well as the economy of the nation, which comes first.

As has been pointed out to other Deputies, the question of hotel charges is not relevant.

I am just referring to it in passing. There is another point about hotel grants. The architects and the officers of Bord Fáilte dealing with hotel grants generally have been criticised by hoteliers who say they are very slow in coming to a decision, that it is very hard to get money out of them, that the inspectors are finding fault and saying the work has not been carried out according to their directions and specifications. I was wondering could some more human approach be adopted to get over this difficulty? I have heard both sides of the story and I feel some intermediary action should be taken in order to bring about a more happy feeling generally.

The Deputy is discussing administration.

I am discussing grants.

The administration of grants.

That is administration.

The Minister has introduced a Bill to give grants and I wanted to point out the comments I have heard in the past. I shall not refer to them any further. On the whole, I welcome the Bill and I trust the hoteliers, especially, and all others connected with the tourist trade will make up their minds each year to make Ireland better than they found it last year and to give all the co-operation they can to the responsible Minister. I feel confident that Bord Fáilte will do their part.

In regard to voluntary organisations, voluntary hotel groups, and so on, they should send their own ambassadors abroad even if they have to do it through Bord Fáilte. Most important of all, I should like the assurance that, when a visitor comes here and is told there is a charge of so much per day, per week, or per month, he will not be charged any more.

The Deputy is still on administration.

If that is so, I shall say no more.

I am disappointed Deputy Burke did not compliment the Minister and I have lost 5/- as a result.

I shall compliment him now. Will that be all right?

It is most important in a discussion on tourism and the question of grants that we should keep certain things in perspective. There should be an order of priority established in regard to expenditure on tourism. The Minister in his opening statement pointed out that in connection with the construction of new hotels grants of 20 per cent of the cost of each bedroom are available. In spite of what the Minister may say to the effect that the same facilities in regard to obtaining grants are given to the smaller and intermediate type of hotels as are given to the larger hotels, I believe the dice are loaded against the small hotels and indeed what I call hotels the Minister would describe as guesthouses.

The simple fact is that the people who are in the luxury class and who will be asked to pay fantastic prices when they go to hotels in Ireland are being catered for in a limited number of hotels, and that limited number of hotels to which I refer is getting huge grants while the ordinary tourist who wishes to come to this country and get good food, and good, clean accommodation must go to the dear hotels because the guesthouses are not being facilitated by the State in improving conditions as they would like to.

Why is it that large grants are available to the big hotels and that the guesthouse proprietor can only get a loan? Why the different approach? Is the guesthouse owner a different type of individual? Is he so beneath the contempt of the Minister and his officials in Bord Fáilte that he does not deserve any consideration? Are the people who go to a guesthouse looked upon as the proletariat, not entitled to facilities which are available to those in the higher income group? Is this not a case of the most outrageous type of class distinction brought about by this Minister who is a little snob?

That expression should not be used and the Deputy should withdraw the remark.

If you wish me to withdraw it, I shall withdraw it in the House but I shall say it outside the House.

I do not want the Deputy to say it.

I withdraw the expression but I insist on saying that the only people catered for in this country are snobs. If there is proof needed of that, we have only to look at the conditions of travel afforded to the ordinary tourist and the Irishman who comes over here as a tourist who is treated as if he were livestock when he travels to his own country, and compare them with the conditions provided for those who travel in these super de luxe constellations and the other types of aircraft subsidised by the taxpayers of this State.

A Deputy said there was a danger of overbuilding in regard to hotels. There are a number of hotel structures erected and others going up that will be white elephants in the next five years or, if they are not, they will do damage to the existing smaller hotels which have done a good job up to this. There is only a certain amount of business available for all these hotels and the argument put forward by Bord Fáilte is that there was a bottleneck created in Dublin, that tourist groups were held up in Dublin and could not get out to the country, that it was necessary to build sufficient accommodation in Dublin so that afterwards, when Dublin was catered for, the tourists could fan into the hinterland, to the south and west of Ireland.

The result is that in the winter time 50 per cent of the accommodation available in Dublin will be idle. If the Minister goes down to one of his pet hotels and examines how many people are booked in for next September, he will have his eyes opened. I do not care what these people do with their own money. If they want to pursue these schemes with their own money, that is their own business but if there is Irish money going to be expended, then this House is entitled to know how it is expended and whether it is wisely expended. No Minister of the type we have here is going to get away with handing over the taxpayers' money to people whose first aim is to make profits and then get their profits out of the country as fast as they can.

As I said, I do not care what these people do with their own money but we will have to pause and consider— if there is to be a planned approach to tourism on the basis that we have to give priority in the expenditure of the taxpayers' money to setting up luxury hotels to cater for individuals who will not come here unless they are bamboozled—that we are making a mistake and it is the wrong type of approach. The hotels to which we are giving the Irish citizens' money are now going to be compared to hotels in Paris and in the tourist centres in the South of France, in Italy and in Spain, the top-class hotels which charge top-class prices.

What have we to offer? The Irish hotels are going to charge top prices but can they provide the same top-class attractions? Is it not a well-known fact that there is an element in the multi-millionaire class who come to the fleshpots in Europe because they will be facilitated in various ways? We are going to have hotels whose prices will compare with those of these European hotels but we cannot offer the attractions. These people want the casinos and gambling facilities and all the other types of amusement which go with them. Are these going to be allowed in Ireland? Have we not already had a little probing by one of the top hoteliers who sought to have casinos in Ireland? Is that not true? I do not want to be taken as being opposed to the establishment of these things but if they are going to be established this House should be told what the people's money is going to be spent on.

There is no use building luxury hotels in which top prices are going to be charged and in which the tourist is going to twiddle his fingers after the first two days and then pack his bags and leave on the first available plane, as is happening in some Dublin hotels. I do not mind that happening if the taxpayers' money is not going to be used to set up these hotels. When there is only a limited amount of Irish money available, it is a disgrace to allow it to be spent on these hotels while Irish citizens are endeavouring, in their hospitable way, to cater for tourists in comfortable guesthouses and all they get from Bord Fáilte or this Minister is a loan. The big fellow gets a grant and the small fellow gets the loan. Is that not a nice reverse of the ordinary order? The cattle boat for the Irish tourist coming home, under scandalous and crowded conditions, and the luxury planes and hotels for the millionaire class. That is the type of distinction that is being made in this Christian, so-called Christian, if you like, country.

I remember some years ago people, including the Minister, who now set themselves up as experts on tourism, telling this House what they did. It was brought to their attention that one of the finest tourist attractions was the river Shannon and that the fishing facilities there should be developed. This far-sighted Minister and the far-sighted group who advised him were bringing over a group of Dutch experts to clear portion of the river of pike and perch and bream and they were going to stock the Shannon with the aristocrats of fishing, with salmon and trout. This Minister is taken up with aristocracy.

The matter of fisheries has nothing to do with this Bill because the fishery interests of the Shannon are now looked after by the ESB.

The Minister cannot get away from the fact that he was the man who was responsible for suggesting that this should be done.

There is no provision for fishing in this Bill.

I will not be libelled by Deputy McQuillan. I did nothing of the kind. It has always been the practice that the Shannon can be scheduled both for game and coarse fishing and there are certain stretches for coarse fishing. So far as I know, that is still the policy of the Inland Fisheries Trust which works closely with the ESB.

There is no provision for fishing in this Bill.

If the Minister still wants to suggest that the Shannon is graded——

If the Minister is wrong in his remarks, the Deputy must find some other means of controverting them. I am confining the Deputy now to what is in this section, as there is really only one section.

I am concerned with the fact that money is being voted for tourism and that the man who tried to destroy the fishing industry along the Shannon is not making money available now for guesthouses along the Shannon which are trying to cater for tourists. Why is it that guesthouses in the Shannon Valley, which at the moment are put to the limit to cater for fishermen and their families, are not given some facilities by way of grant to extend their accommodation for what is the soundest type of tourist, namely the fishermen? We know perfectly well that the fisherman is not worried whether the sun shines or not and no Minister or Deputy can guarantee sunshine. In those circumstances, people who are keen fishermen and sportsmen generally are a very sound financial proposition. When money is being spent, it is far better to spend it by giving grants to guest-houses who cater for the fishermen and the sportsmen in the tourist areas than by giving the taxpayers' money to the type of hotel we have referred to, the Intercontinental Hotel, which is no more Irish than is the man in the moon.

The people in charge of tourism have no long-term plans. They are prepared to jump from the British market into the American market at the toss of a coin. They are not people who are prepared to concentrate for years with patience on a locality and build it up. I want to make it quite clear that the increase in the number of tourists coming here, as Deputy Burke has said, has been due to the people who, in their own time and at their own cost, have put advertisements in newspapers in Britain and elsewhere, who contacted groups in Britain and elsewhere, who acted as their own agents. It is not Bord Fáilte, the luxury hotels or the Minister who are responsible.

Perhaps there will not be many who will agree with me, but I do not want it forgotten that over 60 per cent of the people described as tourists here every year are Irishmen and their families coming back here for holidays during the summer and sometimes in the winter. It may be argued that in continental countries emigrants are also described as tourists. I am not concerned with what they do in France or other countries where the emigrant question is nothing like what it is here. I am suggesting that we must have here figures that are properly broken down——

They are broken down.

——so that there will be no foolish claims made by the Minister.

The Deputy knows they are properly broken down.

The figures are not accurate and nobody knows that better than the Minister. What is done is that a piece of paper, containing some questions, is given to the people by a hostess on a plane or by somebody else in a boat. That is no check whatever on tourists. How does the Minister get over the situation that if you check a list of visitors in a guest register, you will find that of the people with English addresses 70 per cent are Irish people living in England?

It is not a matter for this Bill; it is a matter for the Estimate.

The Deputy is arguing that the grants should not be available because the tourist statistics are not correct.

As far as I can gather, the Minister does not want any discussion, any criticism, on the question of tourism. This is a little baby the Minister has under his arm and he does not want it to squeal too much.

I want a proper discussion on tourism at the time of the Estimate—one at great length.

The Minister is not stuck now with Lord and Lady So-and-so.

Surely the Deputy knows that does not arise.

The Deputy is always abusive. I do not mind.

If the Minister persists in intervening every few minutes to say that any discussion is irrelevant and that we must wait for the Estimate, he is not treating the taxpayer, who is asked to subscribe so generously to the tourist industry, in a fair way. Deputy Mullen referred to conditions of employment in the hotel industry and I support the views he put forward. The Minister was very anxious to point out that in the measure before the House, there is provision to give grants for the construction of accommodation for hotel employees. It is only fair to ask the Minister, unless he is sulking again, to tell the House in relation to all the grants given so far, what percentage of those who obtained grants for hotel reconstruction have also applied for grants for staff quarters. That information should be made available to the House.

Not so very long ago, a conference was summoned by the Director General of An Bord Fáilte at which a number of public representatives, vocational education representatives, hoteliers and trade unionists were present to discuss the question of attracting workers into the hotel and tourist industries. The very fact that there was a shortage of skilled staff in the hotel industry is proof positive that the staffs are being exploited. Shortage of staff in this industry can be due to nothing else. Employment in hotels is not an attractive proposition: there is no security for the majority of those who take up appointments in hotels and who go to the trouble of being trained in special spheres of hotel work; there is no continuity of employment. The services of these people are availed of for the tourist season and after that, the hotel proprietor does not give a damn what happens to them until he wants them the following year. That problem has never been tackled and I do not think the trade unions have themselves been too enthusiastic about it. I cannot talk for Dublin, but outside Dublin, there is no protection for the workers. If they say "boo", they can be replaced by unskilled workers.

The Deputy cannot say that is relevant.

There is provision in the Bill for staff accommodation.

The position of employees in regard to trade union protection is not a function of the Minister.

I shall not deal further with the trade union aspect of it, but I want to put it to the Minister he has responsibility, when handing out money to hotel proprietors or hotel companies, to get a guarantee from them that trained staffs will be employed and that these trained staffs will have first-class conditions as far as pay and accommodation are concerned. I want it put on record here for the Minister's benefit that there are plenty of people in this House and outside who want to see the tourist industry in a healthy state. We do not want to see it grinding to a halt because of lack of interest in the small hotel proprietors and guesthouse owners. As far as I can see, this Minister is interested in neither of these two categories. His main interest is in the top echelon. I shall not bore the House by telling why that is so.

I feel I should not let this Bill go without saying a few words about Galway, the major tourist centre in this country. One very important question is the promotion of a liner traffic between the United States of America and Galway city. I have raised this in the House before and may be a bit off the beam here, but it is of the utmost importance that a proper tender service to liners should be provided. All I want the Minister to do is to use his good offices with the Department of Industry and Commerce, who are responsible for the provision of a ferry boat service to these liners. Córas Iompair Éireann are at the moment providing a service but they have been very reluctant from the start.

I recall a deputation calling on CIE, who told us the boat there at the moment could not be used for liner service. They said the conditions of the licence did not permit of its being used for catering for the tourist trade. I went to the Department of Industry and Commerce and found that the same types of conditions applied as applied to the boat in Cork. I exploded that by presenting them with that report. Then these people tried to kill industry by saying that the insurance would not permit it. I want the Minister to interest himself in bringing back the tourist industry to what it has been in the past and to see that the boats can properly be serviced and the tourists brought in.

Before the keel was laid for this boat, I raised the question that it would be required for servicing the liners coming into Galway. There are some matters which need not be referred to now but which will be dealt with later on.

I am thoroughly in agreement with the reference by the last speaker to the small hotel and guesthouse. These establishments cater for the greatest money spinners of all—the English workers. They have visited Galway and we know how much they spend. These groups are being overlooked and we seem to be bending over backwards to help the luxury hotels. These large hotels are all right but hand in hand with them should go all types of hotels which are helping to build up this industry. The small hotel and the guesthouse should get a better crack of the whip.

The luxury hotels seem to ape the continental type of hotel. Our tourists come to see Ireland as Ireland is. They want to taste our way of life and we should build up that aspect and play it up to the full. The President of the United States, Mr. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, said in the course of the past week that we are the best fed people in the world. If we have good food, as is admitted everywhere, we should dwell on that aspect also. Let us cut out these menus consisting of half French dishes——

The Deputy is travelling outside the scope of this Bill.

I mention the people who travel here and why.

The Deputy should not join them by travelling outside the scope of the Bill.

I have heard comments by these people and now is the time to express them.

The Deputy will find an opportunity to do so on another occasion.

So far as the tourist business in the west is concerned, the Minister might use his good offices for the broadcasting of a Sunday morning weather forecast. Take, for example, people who wish to go to the Aran Islands. They would very much like to hear the weather forecast on Sunday morning.

The Deputy does not think that that comes within the scope of the Bill? If he travels that path, I shall have to ask him to desist.

I got it in, anyhow.

The Deputy is showing very little respect for the Chair when he says he got his remarks past the Chair.

The Minister might use his good offices in respect of souvenirs. I have heard comment by groups——

I cannot allow the Deputy——

It is not in this Bill.

I am asking the Tourist Board to use their good offices——

There is nothing in the Bill in respect of the promotion of the sale of souvenirs.

I have heard much comment by tourists about them and I am expressing it here.

If the Deputy does not desist, I shall have to ask him to resume his seat.

I would ask the Minister, for the interest of tourists, to promote a tourist guide—I do not mean a booklet—in tourist centres and help to sell our resorts to the full.

With the exception of one or two Deputies, the Bill was received very constructively. Deputy Dillon mentioned the importance of good toilet accommodation and maintenance. That is very much in the mind of Bord Fáilte in connection with the inspection of hotels and the registration system. I agree that there is a distinction between moderate maintenance and excellent maintenance which is very important in our tourist business. Deputy Dillon also asked about the availability of car space for cross-Channel traffic. The amount of car space has increased by about 60 per cent in the past few years and is being fully availed of. For example, a special steamer accompanies the ordinary B & I Dublin-Liverpool boat.

We now have a new air car ferry service. We have been pressing the British Transport Commission, through the Midland Regional Board, to make a decision on a large roll-on, roll-off car ferry vessel which, because of the necessity to travel over the shortest possible distance, should be between Dún Laoghaire and Holyhead.

Did the Minister say Dún Laoghaire-Holyhead is the shortest distance?

It is one of the places where there is an established harbour with facilities available. The distance is about 63 miles.

Did the Minister say it is the shortest distance?

It is in the short range of distances.

The Minister will be aware that Rosslare-Fishguard is by far the shortest distance?

Yes; there is also the question of the ease with which facilities can be established.

I agree with Deputy Dillon that there was some criticism of the Inland Fisheries Trust development campaign and that the work of that Trust is now paying off. Like him, I should like to see more comment on the results of the development of our fishing waters in terms of fish caught. I noticed in the newspapers some contribution in that direction. I would certainly like to see more.

Next, I want to make it absolutely clear I have no policy direction concentrating on luxury hotels. We do not have luxury hotels in the European concept of that term; we have top-grade hotels here.

You want to bring in palaces altogether?

I am not concentrating only on the development of luxury travel to the detriment of all other types of travel and tourist. The whole of the programme of Bord Fáilte, the promotion work, the nature of its publicity, the major development grants for the resorts, the encouragement of holiday centres and caravan sites, the methods by which the grants are provided for hotels—all these presuppose the necessity for encouraging tourist travel by people of all incomes. That is a fact. There is not in the whole history of Bord Fáilte or in its annual report, which Deputies may read, anything which suggests there is this unnatural concentration on luxury travel. I completely deny such a policy exists or has ever existed.

The question of future policy is being studied in connection with the second five-year plan of development. The necessity for improved or extended hotel accommodation is a complicated matter which cannot be described simply or in a few words. It is quite evident there is some need for extension in the number of rooms in certain places. In other places there is need for the modernisation and improvement of existing accommodation. In certain other places, what is required, above all, is more promotion by the hoteliers themselves so as to increase the bed-occupancy of their hotels. In other places more attention will have to be paid to extending the existing season in order that the hotels there, which are full at certain times of the year, will be able to have more visitors at the beginning and end of the season.

There is the question of providing indoor facilities for visitors in wet weather. There is the question in general of extending the season and of attracting all sorts of specialist groups of visitors interested in the various aspects of our national life to come to this country.

That is putting very briefly the general problems being tackled by Bord Fáilte and in connection with which they have presented me with a report. The decisions on their report, which is based on market research and investigations of various kinds, will be incorporated in the second five-year programme of development. There may be some initial decisions actually made and put into operation before the actual publication of the programme.

I want to make it clear that Bord Fáilte themselves can only make use of modern marketing research procedures. They cannot be prophets. They can only predict trends in the same way as they are predicted by other tourist agencies throughout the world using the correct research procedures of the most modern and intelligent kind. They cannot be certain that everything they do will immediately result in increased travel. All I can say is that, looking back on their past record, they have not over-estimated the growth in the tourist traffic to this country up to now. I am only hoping that the predictions they have made will prove right in the future.

In connection with the development of hotel accommodation, there are certain assumptions that have to be made. One is the usual one in connection with all our economic programme that the world is going to be more prosperous, that there will not be a world war, that there will be greater growth in the national economics of all the countries from which tourists are likely to come. That is one assumption made in connection with most of our economic programme, and made not only in this country but in most other countries as well.

We anticipate a growth in tourist traffic on that basis. To go on a pessimistic assumption would simply mean having to cancel a great part of the whole economic programme of this State, and Deputies on both sides are well aware of that. That does not say there might not be a sudden temporary recession in Europe or elsewhere, which might result in the number of tourists coming here not rising so rapidly, or a period of stagnation followed by another rise in the traffic. Neither I nor Bord Fáilte could be held responsible if there should be these temporary periods of recession. All we can do is establish a general plan. We have heard enough from the observations of the tourists who come here to realise that we have priceless assets in the tourist field. I deny utterly everything that has been said by Deputy Dr. Browne in his dreary denigrating speech, as if this were a rain-soaked country that could not possibly attract tourists. The number of tourists is steadily growing.

The arrangements in connection with the kind of policy adopted towards financing hotel grants must be related to market research. There have been some observations on the top-grade hotels established here. There again, Bord Fáilte made the best estimate they could of the number of extra A class rooms required in Dublin and other places, in turn based on close contact with American and British travel agencies as to the availability of accommodation, based in turn on another piece of market research carried out by Aer Lingus and the Shannon Free Airport Company on what would be the rate of increase of transatlantic travel and what proportion of the Americans who came across the Atlantic would come to Ireland, either going or returning from their journeys. That in turn was used in connection with the provision of jet planes for Aerlínte.

These predictions turned out reasonably accurate. I cannot remember the figure, but the prediction of the number of people travelling across the Atlantic and the proportion which would come here—a prediction made as far back as 1957—proved to be reasonably correct. I only hope that similar predictions made in regard to the future will also prove to be accurate and that we can undertake this investment in the tourist business confidently believing it will pay off.

On a point of order, the Minister has referred to Aerlínte, and so on. I was ruled out of order for referring to the same thing.

I was merely saying that a market research effort had to be made.

I agree, but I was ruled out of order for referring to the same thing.

I should remind the House that there are some 17,000 rooms of B grade available, including all the unregistered accommodation. There are some 6,000 of the A class and A plus class. Therefore, there is a fair amount of accommodation of interest to people of medium or modest incomes. There is evidence that in quite a number of areas very simple accommodation has not yet been fully occupied. The bed occupancy is not sufficient in certain areas. There is no good adopting holus-bolus a policy of automatically giving grants for guesthouse accommodation. We have to be quite certain that, if it is given, it will be justified, and justified by the number of tourists expected to come to the particular areas concerned.

A number of Deputies questioned the decisions made by Bord Fáilte that they will give grants to hotels for bedroom accommodation and other improvements, whereas in the case of guesthouses guaranteed loans only are made available and the minimum expenditure is £500. All that is being investigated at present. I have been pressing Bord Fáilte to investigate every aspect of the growth of middle-grade and lower middle-grade price travel to this country, that being the most important element of travel, particularly from Britain, which would help to swell our tourist income. We are studying whether we can do anything further in the way of facilities for guesthouses. Again, that is a complicated matter. When considering a mass increase of tourists, I have to rely on the advice of Bord Fáilte as to whether the vast majority of them will not prefer accommodation classified as hotel accommodation with the extra facilities available in hotels as compared with guesthouses. The whole matter is being examined and I can assure the House that if it is desirable to extend grants to guesthouses, it will be done. It is under active consideration.

What is the approach on that matter? Is it on-the-spot investigation?

It is based on general market research and the work of the Bord Fáilte staff in Britain. There is an organisation there with organisers whose sole duties are to travel among angling associations, for instance, give lectures, show films dealing with fisheries and find out from the members the type of accommodation they require.

Is the Minister aware that guesthouses in the west are overwhelmed with inquiries and that these can be greatly developed as an on-the-spot investigation will prove? I suggest Bord Fáilte officials should inspect these areas.

I think Bord Fáilte do that. There is a limit to the grants that can be given by the Government for hotel accommodation. It would be very unwise to build up a volume of accommodation in certain areas where the season is so short that a hotel keeper could, in no circumstances, make even a modest profit on his investment. That must be considered in examining the general pattern of tourist traffic and what should be done by Bord Fáilte.

Can renovation of old houses be considered?

As I said, the whole question is under examination.

Deputy Mullen and Deputy Norton suggested, I think, in connection with Bord Fáilte administration of grants, that there should be some connection between the offer of a Bord Fáilte grant for staff accommodation and determining staff conditions. That has been considered but I think it is really a function of the unions to deal with such matters. Bord Fáilte are concerned with making sure that grants for staff accommodation are provided for the right kind of accommodation and the right kind of rest rooms and restaurants. When a hotel spends 80 per cent of the total cost of staff accommodation—20 per cent being the grant—they are either showing a realistic attitude towards the necessity of providing better staff conditions in general, or else it is the result of adopting a better attitude towards their staff. There has been a very big improvement in employer-worker relations and employers have been compelled in one sense and have acted on their own initiative in another to recognise the desirability of better staff conditions. When a hotel manager applies for better staff accommodation, it shows that, if his attitude was unsatisfactory before in regard to staff conditions, he has taken a new view. It is better for the trade unions to conduct the actual negotiations on what conditions will be than that it should be tied in as a condition to giving a grant.

I should make clear that there are no grants for exterior decoration of hotels. Deputy Mullen asked whether hotels improving their exteriors were really benefiting by extended business.

One or two Deputies suggested we should be careful about how far we encourage the provision of more accommodation. Bord Fáilte examine this matter very carefully and do market research on the best possible basis but Bord Fáilte do not build hotels. They receive applications from private investors in the business and I can hardly believe that people will apply for grants in the belief, as suggested by Deputy McQuillan, that these hotels will be white elephants in the next few years. People in this country are reasonably conservative, sometimes too much so, and I cannot envisage an enormous number of white elephants in the form of empty hotels particularly in the countryside when the hotel owners are themselves responsible for 80 per cent——

A few big ones, not a lot.

I think they would have an intelligent appreciation of how much the market will stand. In that connection, there is not half enough regional publicity for tourism, nor do a great many hotels do sufficient publicity on their own, either individually or in groups. I have investigated the matter seriously and again it is linked with the question of what Bord Fáilte should do. If bed occupancy is not sufficient in certain areas, it may well be due to lack of sufficient publicity for hotels in the area. If the publicity were adequate, you might need to encourage extension of accommodation in the area. That element must be examined carefully in assessing the policy of Bord Fáilte in encouraging extension of accommodation.

Bord Fáilte do investigate overcharging. Last year some 548 complaints were notified to Bord Fáilte but the bulk of these were not connected with overcharging. Where there was an overcharge, in a number of cases the hotel refunded the excess and in some cases it was found that a genuine mistake had been made which could have been corrected before the customer left the hotel. Bord Fáilte may refuse registration to a hotel which exceeds the prices published in the official guide book and in the hotel. Clearly on certain occasions hotels indicate that they will charge additional prices. If there are constant complaints against them of overcharging, they may be refused registration.

I do not think hotel charges in this country at present are excessive when judged by comparison with French, Italian and English prices. There may be exceptions to that: not all hotels are perfect and the value given for money in certain hotels may not be sufficient, but taking it by and large, I do not think the general scale of hotel charges is in any way inflated. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, a statement was published on 20th of October, 1962 in the Financial Times, in which the prices are indicated for dinner, bed, bath and breakfast in hotels of various classifications, but I am dealing now only with top-grade accommodation, not luxury accommodation, and it showed that, taking a fair number of countries in Europe and also in other continents, the tariff for dinner, bed and breakfast in these top-grade hotels varied from £3 15s. up to £12 a night; and, in the case of our top-grade hotels, the price is reckoned to be £4 10s. and cannot be considered excessive when making these comparisons. It is true that occasionally one may find an individual hotel which is top-grade but charges less. This is the submission made by the Financial Times and can, I think, be regarded as reasonably accurate.

£12 a night for bed and breakfast.

And dinner, in one country.

Are they all lunatics in that country?

Have they a waiting list in that hotel?

I cannot say. The next suggestion is that all the people who stay in our top-grade hotels are people who, by taste and custom, have not the faintest interest in the Irish tourist scene. I never heard such nonsense in my life. Between 50 and 60 per cent of the people who stay in the top-grade hotels in Kerry and the west are Irish. There is no foundation for saying that those who frequent these hotels will be deceived and want to return to the fleshpots of the Riviera, the casinos and high living. Actually, there are people of a great many professions staying in those hotels and the idea that they would not enjoy seeing what we have to offer is absolutely ludicrous, as anyone knows who goes into these hotels and gets into casual conversation with these people.

One would imagine, listening to Deputies talk here, that there are no top-grade hotels in Scotland. That country has a climate very similar to our own, though a little chillier, if anything. One would imagine, having heard the arguments here, that people would not be attracted to the top-grade hotels there. As everyone knows, there are plenty of top-grade hotels in Scotland and great numbers of people stay in them, enjoying the scenery and enjoying things very similar to what we have to offer here.

I have, I think, answered all the major points raised. I should pay tribute to Deputy T. Lynch for his very kind speech. I am delighted to find Deputy Lynch and myself in agreement on some things.

He had better examine his conscience.

He made some interesting suggestions which we will naturally examine.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to take the Committee Stage?

Would the House agree to take it now, in view of the fact that it is a one section Bill?

I should prefer the Minister to put it down for tomorrow. I should like to have a word with my colleagues. I do not think there is any objection, but I forgot to ask them, or they forgot to tell me, whichever way you like to put it.

Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 3rd July, 1963.