Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Tourism Development.


asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he has alerted the Government to the fact that the results of a major £500,000 international research project on Irish tourism products funded by the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation and Aer Lingus, which will be available early in the next year, will have massive implications for tourism planning and expenditure.

I am aware that the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation have commissioned a research project to investigate the potential for new product development in the context of increasing tourist traffic to the country.

The results of this research are not expected until January-February next. The implications of these results for tourism policy will be assessed when received.

Would the Minister not agree that this is a remarkably praiseworthy endeavour on the part of the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation and Aer Lingus which involves the largest research project ever undertaken with regard to tourism here? Can he arrange, with his Government colleagues, to have some funds put aside — as the budget is being prepared—to meet the needs which will be shown by the kind of research results emanating from this project? Undoubtedly they will show certain directions that need to be followed very carefully. Will the Minister arrange to have funds put aside so that this research project can be responded to immediately and effectively?

I cannot but admire the Deputy's prescience. She must be a prophetess if she can tell that the result of the research, which will not be published until February next, will need money from my Department. All I can do is stay with the reply I gave, namely, that when the report is published it will be assessed in my Department for investment and any other purpose that may arise therefrom. I want to put on the record of the House also my appreciation — as the Deputy herself has done — of the fact that this substantial investment research is being undertaken by ITIC. Despite a quotation from Deputy Pat O'Malley, I know that ITIC are confident, in the words of their president, that the Government have given them all targets for the next five years, challenging objectives, but that everyone in the industry believes they can be achieved.

When the results of this major research project are published will the Minister undertake to reconvene a major tourism forum so that, when the Taoiseach or the Minister promise, a plan we will have one?

I have told the Deputy and the House before that we have the parameters of a very substantial, ambitious plan for the five-year period. All the efforts of my Department and of Bord Fáilte are specifically targeted on the achievement of those objectives.