I am delighted the Minister is in the House to take this Topical Issue, and I thank the Ceann Comhairle's office for facilitating a deferral of debate on this issue until such time as the Minister was available.
Youghal in County Cork has suffered greatly in the past number of years. It is a beautiful town located on the River Blackwater and has a fabulous four-mile beach, the best salmon fishing in Ireland, and so on. For many decades we have turned our backs to the sea. I am glad to note that the Wild Atlantic Way has been a huge success. Unfortunately, it does not extend to east Cork. Despite the fact that east Cork is also on the Atlantic coast, the Wild Atlantic Way ends in Kinsale. West Waterford is also on the Atlantic coast. However, that is another day's work.
The abolition of the travel tax and the retention of the reduced VAT rate applicable to the hotel and tourism sector were positive measures, as a result of which tourism continues to grow. The recently launched strategy People, Place and Policy: Growing Tourism to 2025 is also a very positive initiative. There is massive potential in marine tourism. In this regard, I reference the study by Carina Ginty in 2010 entitled Marine Tourism Business Sector in the West of Ireland - Capabilities, Performance and Contribution to the Regional Economy, in which she points to a number of issues, including the fact that in terms of tourism policy, there is no lead agency in Ireland responsible for marketing and product development of the marine tourism business sector. In this regard, a person wishing to establish a marina is directed to the tourism section of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, only to be told it is a matter for the marine section of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. When the person then seeks to take up the matter with that Department, he or she is directed to the local authority, Tourism Ireland or Fáilte Ireland. There is no one agency responsible for marine tourism. I suggest that the Minister take this issue on board in the context of the establishment of the tourism leadership group. He might also take on board what has been done in Newfoundland in this regard, which initiative has been a great success.
I put it to the Minister that we have neglected the marine sector for many decades. The Wild Atlantic Way is a first step towards addressing that neglect. The CEO of Fáilte Ireland stated recently that with sound and sensible development there is no reason Ireland should not aspire to increase its marine tourism revenue by 2020 and, ultimately, treble its revenue earnings to €1.5 billion. What I would like to know from the Minister this evening is the point of contact for a person wishing to develop a marina and other ancillary marine facilities in a place such as Youghal or another similar area around the country. Youghal has a lot going for it. There are 7,000 people living in Youghal town and it has great heritage and history. As I have said here previously, Youghal was once so busy it was the second busiest port in the British empire. It is an amazing place, yet there are no berthing facilities there for visitors. Many boating enthusiasts and other people have asked me to whom they should speak in this regard. There is no one agency with responsibility for this.
The Minister needs to get together with other Ministers and the agencies to ensure the establishment of one agency with responsibility for the development of marine tourism. Ireland is an island. It is surrounded by water, which is our greatest asset. We have seen what the Wild Atlantic Way has done for the west. It has been a tremendous success. The Minister should, perhaps, give a medal to whoever came up with that idea. Youghal straddles west Waterford and east Cork and, as such, is caught between two counties. Nothing is happening there. How can we make things happen? What can the Minister do to help? Will he consider proposing to his Cabinet colleagues the establishment of a lead agency to deal with marine tourism? At the very least, can the Minister facilitate bringing all the agencies around the table to discuss what can be done, if not nationally, for Youghal, which is a beautiful, picturesque, historic town.