Tourist Traffic Bill, 1970: Second Stage (Resumed).

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

This Bill is very necessary, as anybody familiar with the tourist trade knows that in the last 12 months a number of hoteliers who had been promised money failed to get it. Consequently, they are paying for their own money through the banks, having raised overdrafts. Such people, I hope, will now be dealt with and paid speedily. Some of them have been out of pocket for two years.

There seems to be a great tendency to lump Cork with Dublin as if Cork had all the facilities that Dublin enjoys. The Minister lists the grants available to hotels and guesthouses and says that grants of up to 30 per cent are provided, subject to the exclusion of certain locations such as Dublin and Cork. I suppose there are 1,000,000 people living within 30 miles of here. There are three railway stations, a port and an airport, and it is the capital city and seat of Government. Deputies who must stay overnight are, as far as Dublin is concerned, tourists. If somebody wants to build a hotel and if no grant is available in Dublin or in Cork he will build in Dublin because the facilities and the people are there. Everybody in Ireland at some time each year, I suppose, has business in Dublin. The Minister should reconsider the exclusion of Cork from grants. It seems most unfair that Cork which is one-sixth or one-eighth the size of Dublin should for certain purposes be lumped with Dublin and not given grants.

Dr. O'Connell last night said he thought Dublin was overprovided with beds. At certain times I suppose every hotel is full and there are times when every area seems to be overprovided with beds. In various locations we seem to be providing beds on a peak period basis. As regards the sad decline in tourism this year I am willing to accept the Minister's statement that we should wait until October before deciding that the year was a flop from a tourism point of view. The 4.6 per cent or 6.8 per cent growth which the Minister quotes for the first six months is very gratifying, but it was the result of the tremendous effort put in last autumn and winter by various tourist organisations and hoteliers on their own behalf to drum up off-season business for winter sports here.

This country can never compete with the Spanish Costa del Sol or the French Riviera in providing sunshine but we have other things to offer. I think we could make tourism most valuable in the autumn and spring when this country is much more attractive and there is much more to do here than in other parts of Europe. This year that was obviously happening. The regional boards and others interested in promoting their own centres brought in people in the off-season and this accounts for the 4.6 increase. Speaking to managers of various tourist boards, not just in my own region, I find that the number of cancellations between mid-May and the end of June was phenomenal and the number of inquiries in that period was down by one-third or 40 per cent. All the good work done in the early part of the year to bring in tourists was nullified by the June figures. I do not know whether trade will pick up again in this and the remaining months. I hope it will. I am willing to wait until the final figures are available before passing judgment on this season.

I ask the Minister to look again at the position of Cork city and to provide some grants as an incentive for people who want to build hotels there. Those who go into the hotel business in Cork should not be legislated against and treated in the same way as the people in Dublin where many considerations apply that do not apply in Cork. Cork is not the capital city. There are other sectors and areas of Government control where this discrimination arises. I do not say there is a conspiracy but there is certainly a shrugging of shoulders and an idea that Cork is all right, that it can look after itself. If this trend continues and is extended to all other Government Departments there will be no Cork, because it will have been wiped out. There is no reason why anybody should come there either to provide industries or hotels.

I asked the Minister for Labour a question here last year about AnCO in Cork. He mentioned Galway and other places. I have no objection to Galway, the Shannon region and the Dublin region coming before Cork, but the Minister's attitude and that of the Government seems to be that Cork is able to look after itself.

I should like to see the guesthouse allowances increased. We have possibly, although this would not apply over the whole country, enough Grade A and Grade B bedrooms. With the advent of car ferries, many people coming over here are not interested in staying in the better-class hotels but want good, clean accommodation, bed and breakfast and to be able to move on a day or two later to some other part of the country. For that reason people should be encouraged to provide guesthouse accommodation at reasonable rates. The building of more big hotels should be discouraged and grants provided in respect of guesthouse accommodation up to Bord Fáilte standards.

Holiday cottages are a new development in tourism here. The Shannon development region was the first to do this but I believe there is another one, a ten-cottage one, on the shores of Lough Ree. I cannot see why a minimum of ten units must be registered with Bord Fáilte. The Minister says here:

The regulations will require a minimum of ten separate units for letting to tourists to qualify for registration. Thus a person with one or two houses for holiday letting will not be required to meet the registrations standards...

If people want to register and if they have not ten units they should be allowed to do so. What the Minister seems to be doing is excluding them from the Bord Fáilte register and only catering for companies or firms of developers who can provide a ten-unit site with cottages on it.

Why not three instead of ten?

Ten is very high. I presume the capital cost of these cottages would be £3,000 each on a site of three acres, which means you are talking about £50,000.

It is in the interest of the small private person this is done. We do not want to impose the restrictive requirements relating to registration on the small person.

If the small, private person wants to register he cannot do so under this Bill.

He is not stopped from doing it himself.

Yes, but he will not be on the Bord Fáilte register for holiday cottages for renting. If the register of holiday cottages for renting is sent to Bord Fáilte offices all over the world the small man will not be on it.

The small person is primarily, in fact entirely, interested in the home market.

I do not agree at all. If the standards of the small man are as good as those for the man with ten units, and if he wants to register, there should be some provision for allowing him to do so.

If you examine this the whole way you will see it will restrict the small person who wants to do a casual letting.

No, he can be quite separate. There are registered guesthouses with Bord Fáilte, but outside this list the regional boards have lists of other accommodation which they consider to be of another standard and which they recommend to tourists. There is no reason why the same cannot be done in this case.

What about the provisions of the Finance Bill, 1969, which give an advantage to people who are registered with Bord Fáilte?

That is right, but in return for that advantage you must have certain standards.

If the standard is there it does not matter whether it is for one cottage or 20. As Deputy Dr. O'Donovan said last night, many of Bord Fáilte's grants and regulations are there to suit the big man, the entrepreneur, who wants to make money out of tourism without putting any work into it. I cannot see why the regulations require a minimum of ten separate units. This is not to suit the small man.

Not at all.

This is deliberately excluding the small man. The Minister should have another look at this. I shall put down an amendment on Committee Stage specifying that if accommodation is of a certain standard he should be allowed register regardless of the number of rooms.

It does not require an amendment. I can regulate what the number will be.

Ten is not specified in the Bill?

Why did the Minister refer to it in his speech?

I was indicating in my opening speech that it was my intention to have a ten-unit scheme recognised for registration purposes, but I can reduce that to five.

Would the Minister not reduce it to one? I cannot follow the Minister's reasoning. If one cottage is up to the specific Bord Fáilte standard it should be included in the register.

Particularly as there is a specific description for these cottages. It will not interfere at all with the trade.

Deputies can take it this will bring enormous opposition from ordinary private people—and this was mentioned last night—who rent their cottage and do not have to come up to any requirements.

The Minister either deliberately does not see my point or he is not following what I am saying. If a person has a holiday cottage for renting which is up to Bord Fáilte standard he should be allowed to have it included in the Bord Fáilte register of holiday accommodation for renting. If there are other sections and other places, as in the case of guesthouses, they can be there also.

Surely the Minister can put a clause in the regulations?

That is what I am saying. I can do what the House is asking by regulation.

The Minister is referring to five?

I can reduce the original number I had in mind from ten to whatever meets the wishes of the House. I shall consider the matter.

Fair enough. I shall accept it if it is down to one. I said in reference to a reply to a Parliamentary question a few weeks ago that it was too late to try to bring up the figures for the tourist industry for this year, that something should have been done long before that. The problem was there long before June. The figures were down in June but it could have been foreseen as far back as February that there would be a problem here.

How could you foresee the cancellation of bookings? The main tenet of the Deputy's opening remarks was that due to the generation of activity by the regional companies bookings were up and that it was a sudden and unforeseen cancellation of bookings——

Inquiries were down as far back as last March for a number of reasons, most of which were outside the control of the Minister or Bord Fáilte, but something should have been done to counteract that. Last year the Minister gave the board an extra £250,000 but with the increased cost of advertising in England and so on this meant that the board could do less advertising this year than last year. While the actual amount of money they got shows an increase on the books it allowed them to do less than last year. An effort should have been made here in February or in March to counteract the position arising from things like the change of the travelling allowance in England and the problems in the North of Ireland, which obviously were going to affect tourism here. Over last winter a campaign should have been mounted in England to show that people would be safe in coming to this part of the country for holidays. We must face up to the fact that the high cost of drink and petrol is deterring tourists from coming here. The Government instead of trying to counteract these high prices increased them by imposing the extra turnover tax. Nothing could be done about the recession in America but this was known about since January, 1969, and no effort was made to counteract its effects. The changed policy of charter flights was another factor. These things did not spring up on 1st June, they were known last winter. Primarily I think the Minister must accept responsibility for this, for not giving extra money to Bord Fáilte to allow them to mount a campaign which would help to counteract, to some degree at least, these factors.

In regard to the two extra directors who are to be appointed to the board I agree with Deputy O'Donnell that the board should be completely restructured. These two new directors should in some way be involved in tourism. It is very difficult with two members to bring them on from one interest because then you are excluding others but some method should be found of getting a representative from the regional tourist boards. There is a certain amount of suspicion on both sides, between the boards and Bord Fáilte and this would help to overcome that. I do not know if the Minister has two specific individuals in mind, or organisations from which he intends to invite nominations, but I suggest that he should include one member from the regional boards.

The first point which must be covered by anybody interested in tourism is the comparison between the amount of money which tourism generates and the expenditure on tourism. On that basis, £11 million is ridiculously low. Most of it I suppose is spent on the salaries of the people who run the board and on loans which are repayable at a later period. As far as the running of the board is concerned, I do not think they are doing a good job.

It is not a question of trying to find out what type of staff is required to do the best job because we have now reached the stage where Parkinson's law seems to be developing at an enormous rate in Bord Fáilte. We have appointments being made and then jobs found to fit the appointments. It is time that a good hard look was taken at this position.

Tourism is too important to the country to be played around with as a jobs-for-the-boys matter. If the Minister is serious he must see this and try to arrest the trend. We spoke a lot about the Common Market and many of us came to the conclusion that if we got into it tourism will be one of the mainstays of the country. This country has something to offer to tourists—something which even Common Market countries cannot excel. That being so, the Minister would have been justified in looking for double the amount which he is looking for and I do not think he would have met with any objection to that. The situation as it stands is rather ridiculous. We have a sizeable board, The people running it are supposed to be top line people but the rate of expenditure exceeds the amount of the grant. When people look for grants, which are advertised widely as being available, they find that the money available has already been tied up for a number of years in advance and they are told that the grants are not available. Something will have to be done to put the thing back on the rails.

At present Bord Fáilte are just not facing up to the requirements which were laid down for them. The Minister seems a bit surprised at comments about the drop in tourist figures for June. Various reasons were given for the reduction. The trouble in the north is the usual one. The high cost of drink, food and accommodation is another favourite, but might I suggest that allied to the troubles in the north are the troubles in this part of the country. This was one reason we had such a drastic fall. It is a reason which we would like to forget if we could but we cannot. If many people throughout the world know about Ireland at all they think of it as one country and the Six Counties and the Republic does not make any sense to them.

People who do know and who have been in the habit of visiting Ireland for their holidays shied away from the Six Counties because of the troubles there last year and this year. When they found a similar type of trouble being advertised as happening here— whether it happened or not is something which eventually we will have to find out, it will be some months yet before we find out whether there is any truth in the rumours—they shied away from here. The fact that this was publicised did affect tourism and it affected the position particularly in Great Britain because many people who had already booked shied off at the last minute. Many people in the Six Counties who had booked for holidays here also shied off. However, I am glad to be able to tell the Minister, if he does not know, that over the last week the position has improved very considerably, particularly as far as northern tourists are concerned. We now find that many people who cancelled bookings earlier changed their minds, apparently because of the relative peace down here at present and because the people here seem to be getting sane again. It looks now as if we are not going to have a revolution in the Republic, at any rate until the summer is over, and so they can safely come into the Republic and have their holidays.

Flights of fancy!

The Minister can argue that out with the Taoiseach. The Taoiseach and he can decide whether it was flights of fancy on their part or something else.

It cannot be argued on this Bill anyway.

I agree. We appear to be getting a number of tourists from the north and from Britain and let us hope nothing happens between now and the end of the season to interfere with that trend.

I am a member of a regional tourist board, but that does not make me an expert. Some people who are connected with tourism seem to think that that connection makes them experts. It is ridiculous to advertise tourist facilities and spend sizeable sums in the process in countries from which we get half a dozen tourists in the year. Our main market is much nearer home and, if we concentrate on this market, we will be doing a good job. There is a holiday camp in my constituency. It concentrates on tourists from across the water and from across the border. They come in large numbers.

For the amount of money this holiday camp spends on advertising and tourist promotion the number of people brought in is quite fantastic as compared with the number brought in by Bord Fáilte. Bord Fáilte spend far more money but do not get the same results. It is like the boy who went fishing: when he fished in a stagnant pool he caught nothing because there were no fish to catch but, when he went to a trout stream, he caught plenty of fish. Bord Fáilte should start fishing in the streams in which there are tourists. If they do they will get better results.

I was agreeably surprised to find that the number of tourists from France is growing. When I was in that country a few weeks ago I found that the tourist board were doing an excellent job in tourist promotion there.

With regard to hotel accommodation and guesthouses, we appear to have reached the limit where grade A accommodation is concerned and further expenditure on hotels of that type is just throwing money away. All one need do to get the picture is check with the hotels to find how many are unable to fill their beds, even during the peak season.

It is difficult to generalise. It varies.

There are some hotels which cater exclusively for American tourists. This type of tourist traffic seems to be operating reasonably well. The American tourists do not consider the prices for hotel accommodation excessive. Some of our nationals who go abroad on holiday are often surprised to discover how costly overnight accommodation can be. The fact is that tourism is mainly aimed at Americans. Because of the high cost of hotel accommodation in the USA, costs elsewhere appear reasonable to Americans. Secondly, accommodation is much cheaper for a group. I regard £8 for a very small bedroom, without breakfast, as far too high. The accommodation is not luxury accommodation. The bedroom is about one-third the size of what a bedroom would be in an ordinary suburban home. It is scandalous for hotels which regard themselves as grade A to charge £8 for such accommodation. It is something which has caused complaint to be made about hotel accommodation here.

Medium sized hotels and guesthouses are doing an excellent job. Prices have gone up considerably. Prices have been raised three times since the spring in a number of the smaller hotels. I am told the reason is because they attempted to renovate and the conditions on which they could obtain financial accommodation for this purpose from Bord Fáilte were laid down and more money had to be spent than was reasonably necessary. The standards required were so high that they simply had to charge very high prices for the accommodation in order to recoup the expenditure. I have had personal experience of this. Someone asked my advice in connection with the erection of a guesthouse. The estimate was £15,000 and Bord Fáilte gave the OK. Three times during the construction a Bord Fáilte architect visited and made major changes in the original plans. The final bill came to £21,000. Naturally the contractor felt that he should charge a substantial sum for all the odds and ends which had to be included. The original scheme would not have cost anything like £21,000. The only effect of the changes was to improve the décor. This is where Bord Fáilte are overdoing things. They insist on an impossibly high standard and the cost of providing that standard is so high that the cost to the customer must be high also. When the whole thing was finished Bord Fáilte notified the owner that the guesthouse was being graded "C". That did not help the temper of the person who had built it. There was a row. Bord Fáilte inspected again and the guesthouse was properly graded. That sort of thing does not help those interested in the tourist industry.

Yesterday the Minister made a comment here which, I think, he should not have made. On reflection, he may wish to withdraw it. It was all the more annoying in that a similar comment was made by another Minister at a later stage. The comment was that the proposed increases in the cost of guesthouses and hotel accommodation next year were being forced through by a number of unionised hotels around the city, the obvious inference being that it was the trade unionists employed in those hotels——

There was no inference. I was speaking a fact.

——who were looking for excessive rates of wages and who were, therefore, forcing the issue. I should be very grateful if the Minister would explain why the word "unionised" was used if it did not refer to staff.

I should like to think of another adjective.

The adjective used was "unionised". That is generally used to refer to a business or hotel with trade union members employed.

What is wrong with that?

The inference was that because they were unionised they were forcing an issue.

I never said that.

Why was the word used so?

Why was it used if it were not for the purpose of alleging that they were responsible for the higher costs? Another Minister mentioned the word in another context. These instances copperfasten the impression that this is a new ploy—blame the trade unionists for increased costs and see how it will run. The Minister is pretty good at everything nowadays even when the wind is not so good.

I am thankful to the Deputy.

Grants to seaside resorts and to major and minor resorts have been under consideration for quite some time. Why does the money appear to be promised to the major resorts, who can overspend, while the minor resorts are left out in the cold? During the summer, it is quite common to have a number of day trippers to the seaside resorts where I live. There is not enough tourist accommodation there because it has been impossible to get from the tourist board the necessary money to develop the area. The local people, through a development association, have beautified the place with the assistance of the county council. At night, men and women paint, clean, plant flowers and so on. We have the odd vandal who will damage overnight what has been accomplished by hard work and who, if he has a few drinks on him, thinks it is funny to do such damage.

The Minister should consider an alteration in the regulation to include a grant for the setting up of restaurants. A considerable number of smaller resorts have a fairly large amount of bed and breakfast accommodation but that is of very little use to people with no mode of conveyance who leave the premises after breakfast and do not get another meal there until the following morning. Such people are really stuck if there is no restaurant within easy access where they can get meals other than their breakfast.

Is there any way in which the tourist board can assist in the provision of toilet accommodation in crowded seaside resorts? It is absolutely ridiculous that in some seaside resorts the nearest toilet accommodation is in a town several miles away. Think of the position of the crowds there on a summer Sunday afternoon. Even in some of the villages where public toilets are provided they are usually intended to cater for a relatively small number of people. If they are used by a large number of people, it means that not alone are they inadequate but they completely spoil the whole area for everybody else's enjoyment. In conjunction with the local authority, the Minister's Department might consider some scheme for necessary toilet accommodation in such areas.

The whole tourist position of this country must be reviewed. I addressed a question to the Minister yesterday about the Joyce Tower. He said Bord Fáilte were considering the provision of £50,000 for a Joyce museum. Among certain sections of the community and among a certain section of our visitors there is a very great interest in Joyce and in his works. Incidentally, £25,000 of that sum would go for a house beside the Tower which would appear to indicate that somebody is attempting to get a lot of money for very little.

Is this sort of thing justified? The Eastern Regional Tourism Board are particularly anxious that this should be done. My personal view is that with a limited amount of money to spend on tourism we are spending that sum of £50,000 on something which will be appreciated by a relatively small group, whereas large groups of people are left without the ordinary amenities because money is not available. My question yesterday was for the purpose of discovering if this sum of £50,000 from Bord Fáilte's funds would affect any further payment to the regional board at a later stage. If a board get a considerable sum under any heading, it is only reasonable to say to them, when they come looking for more money: "You got that amount. We cannot continue to hand out money to you."

I honestly believe that the regional boards in general are not doing the job they were set up to do. In many cases there is a duplication of work. The Dublin board are operating here and the Eastern Regional Board covers an area with the exception of Dublin. Why was a separate board set up for Dublin and another separate board for the eastern region surrounding Dublin? They deal in the main with the same type of tourist who comes either from Dublin Airport or through Dún Laoghaire and who spends time in the city of Dublin and its neighbourhood. The obvious thing is to try to find some type of co-operation between the various boards, to cut out the boards that are unnecessary and to have the tourist board do certain specified things.

I was informed recently that the tourist boards had gone into the system of marketing. A workshop was held in London at which a number of the tourist organisations were represented. At first it was not supposed to be for the purpose of selling tourism, and then it was. A number of tourist representatives both public and private —let me say an enormous number of public tourist representatives—appear to have gone over there. Other workshops have been held in Europe. Recently there was some type of function in Japan. I believe we were nearly the best represented nation at that function in Japan. At the expense of Bord Fáilte, an enormous number of people travelled out there. Japan is a very nice place and I should love to go there, but I do not think I should expect public funds to pay for me.

Only three Members of Parliament went to the meeting of the Interparliamentary Union when it was held there.

This sort of thing calls for criticism in this House because this is the criticism we hear outside. If you are in any way associated with the tourist industry, people come to you with their complaints. The place to air those complaints is on the floor of this House.

Hear, hear.

The Minister is responsible for tourism and he will eventually have to carry the can. It is only right that he should be made aware of what is happening.

The regional boards have tourist information offices and development offices around the country. The regional tourist information offices are few and far between. Somebody said they are like angels' visits. Sometimes they are sited in good places and sometimes not in the best places. They are supposed to hand out literature. This is true of all the tourist information offices: they have a certain amount of what they call saleable literature, for which a price is charged. Those in charge of the offices seem to be much better pleased if they sell a few pounds worth of literature rather than hand out the big amount of free literature which the various tourist organisations make available to them.

That is wrong. If I go as a tourist to a country and I ask for tourist information, I expect to get it free. If I am asked to pay for it, I consider that the people who are trying to sell it do not know their job. Here it seems to be the thing to do, to sell tourist information literature.

I am a trade union official and, therefore, I feel very strongly about this. The offices are manned, if "manned" is the word, by boys or girls who are paid about £10 a week. They work from about 9 a.m. to about 5.30 or 6 p.m. There is no double shift work and there is no Sunday opening. In some offices there is no Saturday opening. If the Minister were going around this country or any country and he wanted some tourist information, like myself, he would not start looking for it until about 5 or 6 p.m. By that time, the tourist information offices are closed because there is only one person manning them and he has gone home because he has already punched in more hours than he should.

If you go to a tourist information office on a Sunday and find it closed, you get the impression that tourists are not being catered for very well. I suggest that a special allocation should be made for the manning of those offices and for keeping them open fairly late. If they did not open so early in the morning, or if they were not open for a period during the middle of the day, they could be open in the evening. They should also be open on Sundays. I suggest a double shift is the only way in which this could be done. That would cost more money but surely, during the summer season, £10 a week is a small sum if it has some effect.

The tourist information office in Dublin Airport is leased by the eastern region. About 12 months ago facilities in the airport were improved and the eastern region got a better office but they have to pay a fantastic sum for it. I would imagine that Bord Fáilte are giving a very good service to the airport but that did not seem to count because they had to pay just the same.

Very many of the people who come into Dublin Airport or Dún Laoghaire are only passing through. We have to provide the services for them at the two entrances. They are supplied with the literature and whatever information they require, and they drive straight through our region down to the south or the west. Despite this the Eastern Regional Tourist Organisation get a smaller allocation of money than any of the other regions. This is wrong. Some effort should be made to ensure that an adequate amount of money is made available.

Perhaps this is not the proper place to raise the next matter but I think it should be raised, that is, the question of budgets. When a budget is being drawn up surely it is ridiculous that any region should be asked to budget for a deficit. Despite the falling value of money, despite the increase in salaries, despite the increase in various costs, the amount of money made available by Bord Fáilte to the regions is not sufficient and, therefore, the directors must sit down and solemnly budget for a deficit. At the end of the year if they have overspent by a substantial sum, Bord Fáilte must provide that money because there is no other way for them to get it.

There is something called an investment plan under which officers of the board go around and ask people such as business men for money. I disagree entirely with that. That idea is all wrong. People should not be asked to hand out money, in addition to everything else, for the running of the board. In my opinion it lowers the dignity of the board to have officials going to hoteliers or publicans and saying: "Please will you give me £5, £10, £15 or £20 or whatever it is? We cannot run the tourist organisation unless we get money." That is wrong.

They are already contributing to Bord Fáilte through rates and taxes.

Yes, in two or three different ways. It may be said that this money is given willingly. Firms, particularly those making big profits, find it quite easy to cover it. I am sure the Revenue Commissioners are aware of how this works. It does not cost them very much and they feel it is a gesture of goodwill. An officer should not have the job of doing this, and that is not the way our tourist organisation should be financed. The Minister might have a look at the way the regional boards are run and how they are financed. This system is all wrong.

The Minister is suggesting putting two extra members on the board. I do not know how the board was originally selected. I cannot blame the Minister if it is not functioning properly. May I suggest that the Minister should put on the board someone who knows something about tourism?

Hear, hear.

We have reached the stage where only experts can do the job. This morning, on the Finance Bill, we had various people expressing views. Some of them knew what they were talking about and some of them did not, but were just chancing their arm. When a job has to be done, if somebody has expert knowledge, he is the person to be appointed. Two additional members are being appointed. Irrespective of the party they support or what their job is, persons who know tourism and can be of assistance, are the persons to put on the board.

Tourism is such a vast subject that we could spend a long time dealing with it. I have given the Minister my views, not in a carping or critical way, as I hope he understands. I will conclude by saying I believe tourism is so important, not only now but for the future, that much more money must be made available if we are to get the returns we hope for. I think the investment will be repaid a thousandfold if the business is properly run.

We have been concentrating on summer tourism. A bad mistake was made last year. We thought we could carry on with summer tourism without bothering to spend much money, that we had it "sewn up," and an effort was made in certain areas to build up winter tourism. We have much to offer winter tourists but the backbone of tourism is the summer season. We should ensure that we do not lose the summer tourists by trying to grab something which may eventually be a money-spinner but at present is pretty slow. That is a good policy. I hope the Minister will give the personal attention needed to ensure that tourism is a success. Successive Ministers have been saying: "That is a matter for Bord Fáilte" and are sitting back. If Bord Fáilte made a mistake, that was their funeral. One could not get a question answered here on the subject. Deputy Murphy's questions about how money was distributed to guesthouses and hotels were always brushed off on the ground that this was not a matter for the House but a matter for Bord Fáilte. The Minister must take responsibility himself and if he takes this personal interest he will be doing a very good job.

I congratulate Bord Fáilte for the magnificent work they have been doing to promote tourism. The Minister has clearly indicated the dramatic progress made in 11 years. He pointed out that in 1959 £500,000 was made available to the board: and that today the figure has now reached over £5 million. That is a very significant contribution to this important industry.

An Opposition speaker earlier drew attention to his own constituency in regard to the administration of grants. I suggest there is a certain amount of discrimination not only against Cork but also against Dublin city. In his statement, the Minister said that grants of up to 30 per cent were provided in the west and up to 20 per cent in other areas, subject to the exclusion of certain locations such as Dublin and Cork. He has not given valid reasons for the exclusion of these important centres. Dublin city has grown as an urban entity in the last ten to 20 years. In 1948-49 when another Government were in office a magnificent plan was put forward by Bord Fáilte for the development of the North Bull Island. Dublin Corporation were to be the developing agents. Apparently, that was abandoned.

Reference has been made to the paucity of grants in other areas for the development of amenities. While some areas have been splendidly developed, apparently the policy of the board is to concentrate attention on seaside resorts and other areas to the exclusion of large urban districts. I think the Minister should suggest that the board should rethink their policy in this regard.

There is no doubt that a slight recession has set in during the past few months due to factors mentioned here: the increase in travel allowances in England, economic conditions in America and our own problems here. I entirely disagree with the reference made by Deputy Tully to the fact that matters that were the subject of discussion here some months ago contributed to the extent he suggested. The Opposition had a responsibility in that period not to behave as they did: they kept us here for a weekend debate and ensured that world communications media were brought here to—in my opinion—exaggerate the situation at that time. Deputy Tully said that people coming to Ireland regard the country as one unit. I think events in the past 12 months have clearly shown that there is a political problem here. It is tragic that these happenings occurred, but they were inevitable because of the political situation. I hope that, as time passes, we shall be able to solve that political problem.

I am glad that steps are being taken to counter this temporary recession by an appeal to the Irish people to spend their holidays at home. I understand that about £35 million to £40 million —and it may be much more—is being spent by Irish holiday-makers abroad. The hotel industry have a responsibility to try to ensure in their costings that they will get a larger share of the home market. I do not know the current figure of Irish holiday-makers going abroad but I think public representatives, and particularly those in Dublin, find that the spring and early summer is one of the busiest periods with regard to applications for passports. Most of us like to go abroad once in a while but nowdays people seem to think they should go away for holidays even though they have not spent a holiday in their own country.

I am glad that Bord Fáilte, even at this late stage, are directing their propaganda towards our own people. I have a little criticism to make in regard to the national television service. Last Sunday I listened to a news broadcast in which reporters were interviewing people leaving the country after spending a holiday here. I do not know if these people were selected or taken at random but the emphasis was on the suggestion that our prices for goods and services were much higher than they should be. The people interviewed were going back to a country where inflation has set in during the past few months and the general economic situation has deteriorated. The cost of food and other goods and services has risen. It was not very helpful to have our own national communications organisation disseminating news of that kind. Substantial sums of money have been provided by the community and it should be more sensitive in putting up programmes, particularly in a situation where the hotel industry is going through a slight period of recession.

I am glad the Minister is encouraging the development of cottage-type accommodation. There are areas contiguous to Dublin city, and very nice rural areas in County Dublin and even in Counties Meath and Kildare where groups should be helped to develop this type of accommodation.

The question of prices has been mentioned by other speakers, and I should like to join in asking the Minister to ensure that Bord Fáilte, in so far as they have any function, will keep a sharp and critical eye on this trend. People who wish to increase their prices should justify those increases either to Bord Fáilte or to the Minister himself. A structure of prices has been published in the brochures sent out by Bord Fáilte and other agencies throughout the country. Thus prices are clearly printed for the guidance of potential tourists. If prices are increased during the tourist season it tends to mislead tourists and give them a bad impression.

Deputy Tully referred to the proposal for a Joyce house in Sandycove. I would join with him in asking the Minister to examine that proposal very closely. There are other houses in this city in which Joyce lived. There is one in Drumcondra and I am sure the owner would be interested in staking his claim that there should be a museum there also. also.

I welcome the Bill but I am surprised there is no mention of grants for amenities. Grants for amenities are just as important as grants for bed accommodation. That is one criticism which has been levelled at the tourist resorts in my part of the country. Apart from the dance halls and the singing pubs, night life is almost non-existent. The Minister should use the influence he undoubtedly has with the Minister for Justice to amend the licensing laws, especially during the tourist season, to extend the hours of opening on Sunday night. It is ridiculous that public houses should close at 10 o'clock on Sunday night. Incidentally I am not a publican.

If the Deputy was he might not want it.

The hours on Sunday night should be extended to at least 11.30, even if it meant closing earlier in the day from 1 to 2 p.m. or 2 to 3 p.m. I have spoken to many publicans about this and they tell me they make as much money between 9 and 10 on Sunday night as they make in three hours earlier in the day. I would appeal to the Minister to consider this suggestion. It would be appreciated by everybody in the tourist industry.

It is about time gambling saloons were introduced in different tourist resorts. They have them in France and other European countries. We should come into the seventies with the same spirit of adventure as the French, the Spaniards and the Germans. Now that we are joining the Common Market many Europeans will be coming to this country looking for these facilities. A licence should be given to people in different localities to set up these saloons. Some people might not like them but they are a tourist attraction. There are the greyhound tracks, but they only operate two nights a week. People like a little flutter whether it is at the roulette table or at the dogs.

The Minister says he is satisfied with Bord Fáilte but I do not think he is when he is putting two more members on the board. I hope, as Deputy Tully says, he will appoint qualified men. The tourist business is a ruthless business and we must have experts, men with know-how who have proved themselves in other fields.

I agree with what Deputy Tully said about congestion on our beaches during peak holiday periods. The lack of toilet facilities is often commented on, especially by foreign visitors. Bord Fáilte should introduce a scheme of mobile toilets. There is one in Ballyheigue towards which the Kerry County Council gave a grant. This scheme should be more widely adopted for the different beaches during the peak holiday period. Bord Fáilte should give a grant to the local authorities to provide these mobile toilets.

In regard to the registration of cottages it would seem that the small man is being squeezed out. The brochures issued by Bord Fáilte go far and wide and only the people registered will be contacted by potential visitors. I am glad that the Minister is allowing any man who has proper facilities and the required standards to be on that list. Some time ago in reply to a question by Deputy Donnellan the Minister said that all grants were taken up for the next three years.

Two years, I think.

I wonder in what way is the money being allocated? Is it being allocated to the large combines, the chain hotels which have been in existence for some time? It is well known that they have bought sites in different parts of the country and have received planning permission for the last two, three or four years, but yet no hotels have been built on these sites. Were they anticipating that this extra money would be for them, the select few? It is a disturbing point. As far as I can see, some of these people were never associated with the tourist industry but suddenly they have gone into it. Maybe it is because the grants are good and they got a tip off from somewhere. It is very wrong that these people should have a monopoly of all the money which is going to be available for the next two years. I may be wrong about this and if I am I will retract.

The Minister should tell the House whether it is the chains of hotels which have this money taken up. I do not want to mention names because the people are not here to defend themselves, but these people have got their quota and now the ordinary people are entitled to a break. The Minister should see that as far as the allocation of money is concerned everyone will get cothrom na féinne.

Another matter is Bord Fáilte's approach to planning permission. It seems to me that they have somebody down at Baggot Street bridge watching the newspapers every morning to see if there are any planning applications in Irish, English or Spanish and immediately they see that there is an application they shoot in a letter to the Minister for Local Government and the relative planning authorities opposing this proposal. As far as local councils are concerned the board are letting themselves down. Recently a farmer in Ballymacelligott who is far away from any amenity, whose house is on the side of a mountain, applied for permission to build a house and Bord Fáilte objected to it. It is about time the Minister told these people that before they object to any application to build a house they should be sure that the people involved are contravening the Planning Act. When I was chairman of the county council I could see this developing. I invited Bord Fáilte to send a representative to a meeting to explain why they were doing this, but they refused. They should have been big enough to send a representative and they should be big enough to back their play. Surely the men in Bord Fáilte should be prepared to meet elected representatives to put their case to them?

Another point is that there seems to be a number of Bord Fáilte officials going around objecting to caravan parks. With the prices being charged in hotels, caravans will be used more and more. We will have to be geared for more caravan traffic and we will have to provide caravan parks in different amenity areas. It is ridiculous for the board to be objecting to these parks. I attended an inquiry down at Castlegregory at which an official from Bord Fáilte objected because he said you would see the caravans when you were swimming in the sea. That is ridiculous. If caravans are not put into parks they will be a hazard as far as road traffic is concerned because they will be parked beside the road and will have no parking lights. I would ask the Minister to tell the board that they should have a more constructive approach to this matter.

Finally, there are a number of people in Kerry and elsewhere who are waiting for money from Bord Fáilte. Would the Minister see that they get it immediately because many of them have to pay interest on overdraft accommodation——

Will the Deputy give me particulars because I would like to get them?

Yes. If the Minister agrees that Bord Fáilte are at fault will he agree at least to pay the interest on the overdraft?

I could not go that far.

One matter which I should like to get on record is connected with a question asked by Deputy Tully yesterday about the proposed Joyce centre at Sandycove. I can see a situation arising in this House whereby this proposed centre could become a political plaything. There have been many uninformed remarks about it. There is a very important proposal before the Minister, Deputy Lenihan, at present for a Joyce centre at Sandycove in order to centralise all the Joyceiana, to bring to one place all the paraphernalia of Joyce, his literature, culture and so on. There are too many houses claiming that Joyce lived there, that they have a bed on which Joyce slept and so on. There is an offer of a first-class library for this centre in Sandycove if, and when, it opens. Joyce has had a belated recognition in this country. In my view £50,000 is a small sum in the context of Joycean culture. Deputy Tully seemed to have some fault to find with this expenditure. Is it because it is earmarked for my constituency instead of Deputy Tully's?

Joyce has done a great deal for the English language. He has, in fact, given it a new dimension. We have an unfortunate capacity for refusing to recognise our great men, the men who have done so much in the line of cultural endeavour. The Americans are buying up our heritage with their dollars. That is why I urge the Minister, Deputy Tully and the Fine Gael Party to support the centralisation of Joyceiana. It is a matter of national importance to have all this memorabilia centralised in one place. The centre in Sandycove would be a very big tourist attraction. The numbers visiting the tower are increasing every year. There has been an increase so far even this year.

There is a proposal to have a Joyce school which would operate throughout the year. All we have at the moment is a tower. There are fairly important items in it but, if they are not taken out of it soon, they will be affected by the damp. The tower is not waterproof. I regard £50,000 as an initial outlay towards rescuing our national conscience in the context of Joyce as £50,000 well spent.

With regard to the proposed hotel in Dún Laoghaire, I have been accused of bringing politics into this, but I appear to be the only one who is making any effort, apart from the Fianna Fáil councillors, to bring this hotel to Dún Laoghaire.

What is nonsense?

That the Deputy is the only one who is doing anything about it.

I am the only one who stood out against the Fine Gael controlled Dún Laoghaire Corporation in the decision they took refusing planning permission for the building of a first-class hotel in Dún Laoghaire. However, their views have changed now. They represent the people and, when people start pressing their views, others look to the next election.

That is a revolutionary sentiment.

It is not a revolutionary sentiment. We represent the people. The Minister has plans in front of him but I am afraid someone is dragging his feet in this. The people in Dún Laoghaire want the hotel urgently. I urge the Minister to ensure that the hotel is started in the near future.

I think many of the grants for hotel building could be directed to the training of personnel. It is most important that we should have trained personnel. Third-rate hotels could be brought up to a higher standard if the type of service were improved. I think Deputy O'Leary put forward this suggestion last night.

My namesake.

That is the Deputy to who I am referring. I should not like Deputy O'Leary to think I was giving him the credit.

I should like to make a few comments. I feel very strongly that Bord Fáilte is beginning to outlive its usefulness. This is due primarily to the fact that there is no proper method of ensuring that the board is accountable to anybody. This board, like many State bodies, is allowed to operate without any responsibility to anybody. Having regard to the amount of money handled, I think this is very wrong. It has been successful from the point of view of advertising this country. Its marketing of holidays is generally regarded as successful.

Debate adjourned.