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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 24 Mar 1998

Vol. 488 No. 7

Written Answers. - EU Funding.

Jim O'Keeffe


31 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation his tourism priorities for the next tranche of Structural Funds. [7249/98]

The current EU Operational Programme for Tourism, 1994 to 1999, with the earlier corresponding programme, has made a major contribution to the recent significant growth in Irish tourism in terms of foreign revenue earnings and job creation. Between the two programmes, covering the decade 1989-99, over £1 billion of investment is anticipated to take place, leading to a transformation in the range, quality and volume of tourism product available and a major boost to international tourism marketing and training.

In recent months my Department has been developing an outline strategy for the continued development of tourism in the context of the next round of EU Structural Funding, 2000-2006. The strategy includes a vision for the future, key objectives and targets and a proposed strategic approach under the product, marketing and training headings. Consultations are due to take place soon with the industry aimed at developing a shared approach for the future.

To meet the challenges that lie ahead and to complement action taken by an increasingly self-reliant industry, the strategy will be to maintain a high level of investment across the three key areas of product, marketing and training. This investment is compatible with EU priorities, including funding priorities. The cornerstone of any future strategy must be the development of sustainable tourism, facilitating better asset and visitor management, greater regional spread and a programme rather than project based approach. In the marketing area, emphasis should be on destination marketing programmes to be carried out in an enhanced partnership between the EU, the industry and the State. A new approach to training is also needed based on intensified industry efforts to enhance the image of the sector as an attractive career, graduated levels of support depending on company size and the creation of an active training culture within the industry itself.