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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 30 Jul 1970

Vol. 68 No. 17

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

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

Before the adjournment I was referring to the fact that there is tremendous ignorance on the part of United States and other visitors of affairs in this country and I was suggesting that there is a special need for some Government agency, whether Bord Fáilte or some other organisation, to conduct a tactful campaign, apart from their promotional activities, to bring home to people in other countries the fact that in 90 per cent of the area of Ireland there is peace and that visitors are not in any danger when they come here. A large proportion of the Americans I have met do not seem to realise this.

In relation to our tourist situation this year, it is obvious at this stage that the targets set will not be reached. There was some indication of this even last year because the target set by the Third Programme for 1969 was not achieved. I should like to draw the attention of the House to an article in an Irish Independent supplement for 10th March last:

At this time we are on the Third Programme for Economic Expansion which has an annual target—in terms of 1968 money—of a 6 per cent increase: 1969 was below that level and a 9 per cent per annum increase is necessary to achieve the 1972 target.

Fairly obviously, there will not be a 9 per cent increase this year—all the indications are to the contrary.

Consequently, to come anywhere near the ideals of the Third Programme there is great need for re-assessment of tourist strategy in this most delicate of seasons. The Minister may correct me if I am wrong, some of the figures I have being from sources engaged in the tourist industry, which may not be so accurate, but I understand that the growth rate dropped last year in a manner which was considered by many people in the trade to be significant. In this respect it is interesting to study the actual revenue figures produced in the Bord Fáilte report. Bord Fáilte have the admirable distinction among State bodies of reconciling the annual earnings to a constant figure. It is a pity other semi-State bodies do not do it. Taking 1953 as a base year, the revenue then was shown at £28.4 million. Three years later, the figure was £57.1 million, or, in constant figures £45 million. Last year the figure was £93 million, the constant figure being £57.58 million. That figure is nearly exactly twice the 1953 figure.

Therefore, we can say that our direct earnings from tourism doubled over that 15-year period. It is no harm to study the figures in the Minister's statement. In 1960, Bord Fáilte were allocated £500,000 and they produced earnings for that of £44.2 million. In 1970 Bord Fáilte will be allocated £5½ million, in other words 11 times what they were given ten years ago. Obviously, if we take £93 million as the earnings for 1969——

——it would be two and one-fifth times the earnings for 1950. We have increased the allocation to the tourist board by 11 times and have built up the earnings from tourism by, let us say, 2½ times. Obviously there had to be a fall in the amount of money put into development and promotional programmes but may I suggest to the House and the Minister that there is significance in the fact that Bord Fáilte are getting 11 times what they got and are producing only 2½ times the revenue they produced ten years ago? The point is so obvious that I will not go into it further.

During the immediate post-war period, many tourists came to our country without our having to use any promotional drive. Somebody in Britain described our country then as a land flowing with milk and honey. Following the post-war period it would have been natural to expect a much greater increase during the 1950s and 1960s. The arguments has been made— I do not know with how much validity —that figures in relation to tourist revenue show that the revenue derived from emigrants returning for holidays is less than it should be. However, the increase in tourism and the spending of money by emigrants returning for holidays would have occurred anyway without any promotion drive. Therefore, it would appear that the board has not been as great a success as it might have been. This concern is shared by many people in the industry so it might be as well if the Minister would give the House his views on these points.

From talking to people in the industry I am aware there were many indicators last year as the tourist season progressed that many difficulties were being experienced and many people engaged in the industry reckoned that they were in for a rough year in 1970. We must remember that those indicators were apparent before the real disturbances in the six north-eastern counties last year. These people realised that special promotional work was needed then to offset these difficulties. From the grant in aid given to Bord Fáilte for the current year one would have thought they would have spent at least as much money in promotional and marketing work this year as hitherto. However, instead of that, Bord Fáilte decided to spend £130,000 less in this way this year than they had spent previously. I must emphasise that this was a decision of the board and not of the Minister. Taking this in conjunction with the difficulties in the business that were self-evident last year it would seem an amazing decision on the part of the board. Obviously the Minister is aware of this also and perhaps when he is replying he will enlighten the House as to the reason for the decision. I know there is more of an answer to be given than the simple one of there being an increased allocation of money to the resort development fund.

Some of the contributions to this debate had a parochial ring about them. I do not believe this is the best way of talking about the tourist industry which is a national one. There is the belief among those engaged in the tourist business in the eastern part of the country that Bord Fáilte overemphasise the western counties and, in particular, the counties along the western seaboard. I can see heads shaking but the fact remains that people in the eastern area share this belief. In this regard it is interesting to remember that the eight regional tourist boards were given an annual subvention of £30,000 each but apart from that——

It is less than £30,000.

That is worse. I understand that there is an additional subvention of about £35,000 to the western seaboard regions and that they are allowed to spend this money in helping guesthouses and in providing tourist accommodation generally.

There is no truth whatsoever in that.

It is complete nonsense.

I have been told that this is so.

It is the other way round. This crib is held by the people in the western regions. They believe that the people in the eastern regions get much more than they get.

At least this shows that the people in the western half of the country are of the opinion that there is bias as are the people of the eastern region.

There is no question of bias. I am only giving the facts.

I accept that but I am taking Senator Honan's point as showing that jealousies exist in both regions.

It is not a question of jealousies.

Senator Honan has already spoken. Senator Boland must be allowed to continue without interruption.

I would be grateful for correction on this because as I pointed out to the House earlier some of the facts I have are authentic and some of the suggestions I am making are not authentic. It is a point that has been made by people in the tourist industry but I do not know whether or not it is correct. I did think the Minister might be able to correct me. It is true to say that additional subventions are given in underdeveloped areas.

For accommodation.

There is a feeling amongst the people involved in the tourist industry in the eastern sector that some of the western counties get over-concentration from Bord Fáilte.

They get a bigger accommodation grant by reason of the decision of the Oireachtas.

This point of view has been expressed to me and it is one which ought to concern the Minister.

Are Fine Gael for or against that policy?

Senator Boland without interruption.

I am putting points of view which have been expressed to me by people engaged in the tourist industry which I thought the Minister, as Minister for Transport and Power, might be interested to hear.

The Senator is purporting to say they are points of fact.

All interruptions must cease.

I am doing no more than putting to the House the points that have been made to me but which I know are not authenticated. I am asking for information about them. If the Minister, Senator Honan or anyone else does not uderstand, that is fair enough but if the Minister, Senator Honan or anyone else wants to make this a political debate on the tourist industry there is no better man than me to enjoy and carry on such a debate. I am endeavouring to detail for the Minister some of the difficulties which people engaged in the tourist industry are encountering.

The Senator should not invite interruptions or heed them.

If a Member——

Senator Honan has already spoken. I must ask him to cease interrupting. This is not a Committee Stage.

If a Member makes a statement which purports to be a statement of fact it is one thing but if he asks a direct question that is another thing.

This debate cannot be carried on by question and answer. It is open to any Senator to ask a question and the Minister when he is replying to the debate may answer it. The debate may not proceed by way of question and answer. I must ask Senator Boland to proceed without interruption.

The Minister said in his opening speech that tourism should be used as an instrument of economic and social development in rural areas. I agree with this. He went on to say particularly the western counties. I cannot subscribe quite as fully to that part of his statement as I can to the first part of his statement. It is only proper to have a balanced tourist industry. In order to give it a chance of succeeding in a continuously competitive world market we should develop the industry all over the country. The natural amenities which exist in the country should also be developed but a large concentration on one particular area should not be embarked upon.

At the present time Bord Fáilte is the parent body of eight regional boards operating the resort development fund. Whatever development is to be carried out in any holiday resort is carried out by Bord Fáilte in conjunction with the local authority concerned. The eight regional tourist boards, which, I think, are set up under the aegis of Bord Fáilte, work autonomously. Obviously these regional boards would have a greater day-to-day knowledge of the resorts in their area. I suggest consideration should be given to the idea of allowing regional tourist boards to administer the resort development fund. This would enable them to work out development schemes in the various resorts in their own area. Because of their local knowledge and local interest they would obviously get much more co-operation.

In his opening speech the Minister outlined very fully the amount of money which Bord Fáilte has given by way of hotel grants over the past few years, and the amount of money given by way of guaranteed loan interest for hotel development. It is no harm to realise that over the past ten years private investment in hotels has been in the region of £33 million. This figure has been increasing by an amount in the region of £3 million. per annum. Obviously this contribution is not coming from the board. A very substantial amount of capital has been invested by private enterprise, some from this country and some from abroad. The number of hotels operated by foreign interests is of the order of 70.

It is half that actually, about 35.

Thirty-five is a small number but this small number contains some of the largest hotels in the country. Only 35 per cent of the people arriving at all ports of entry seek hotel bed-night accommodation. I do not know the comparative figures for other countries but 35 per cent seeking hotel bed-night accommodation is a relatively low figure. I understand this figure decreased last year. This is not guesthouse accommodation but hotel bed-nights. They were down by 3 per cent. The argument was that the bednights in the Dublin hotels were hardly down at all. They were engaged in all-the-year-round trade. That represents a sizeable percentage drop in the bednight occupancy of the hotels outside Dublin. More people came into the country but they stayed in guesthouses or with friends or brought caravans. Why did they do this? Senator Honan gave us the answer when he pointed out that Bord Fáilte had induced hotels to modernise their premises. That is very acceptable. Bord Fáilte by their increased concentration on getting the US visitors to come had discovered that these visitors did not consider our hotels acceptable. Bord Fáilte went a step ahead and got hotels to provide luxurious bedrooms accommodation, including rooms with private baths and luxury fittings. They left the hotels with no option but to increase their prices in order to cover capital outlay and increased running costs. The great majority of tourists still come from Great Britain. They are not interested in staying in luxurious accommodation. They will not accept the prices charged for such accommodation. They stay in guesthouses or bring their own caravans. I do not object to caravans. I would imagine that tourists coming here and staying in caravans are probably the least productive of all tourists. They purchase their food and live in the country but there is no income from them.

That is what Senator Alexis FitzGerald describes as the multiplier effect.

It is a multiplier by a small multiple.

Senator Alexis FitzGerald made a constructive contribution advocating that type of business because of the multiplier effect on the economy.

It is interesting to compare the prices charged in grade A hotels here with the prices charged in similar hotels in Spain. The prices compare unfavourably. Recently a holiday in Spain with full board in a good hotel could be obtained at £2 or £2 10s per day, or with luxury accommodation and full board at £3 10s per day including tips and taxes.

What month of the year?

We have accommodation at 25s a day here.

In relation to the bed-occupancy factor, that worked out at 40 per cent here last year as compared with 50 per cent in Britain. Hotels in Britain are different. They operate on a year-round basis. A large percentage of hotels here rely on tourist traffic in the summer. Efforts are being made to build up special off-season promotions and attractive prices are being offered. We rely on the high-season traffic, and on traffic each side of that season. This is a sensitive area and we should attempt to spread the load all over the year.

Tourism is part of our exports. There are many concessions in the tax field for exporters by way of remissions in income tax and by way of wholesale and turnover taxes not applying. Senators will know the special concessions which exporters get. No concessions are available to those engaged in the tourist industry. All the very heavy taxation burden which is being borne by people selling internally here is expected from the operators in the tourist trade also, although they are producing revenue which is actually exports earnings. They are not receiving equivalent help to the help being given to people who materially exports goods.

Rather than have a complete reliance on the grant system, it should be possible to devise a scheme whereby incentives would be given to tourist promoters to bring in so many visitors and if they brought in such visitors for a given length of time a per capita figure should be given to them. Most people would be prepared to pay the price. Those three concessions, while laudable and commendable, are highly unlikely. The tourist operatives are not getting the tax concessions the exporter is getting and there should be an incentive scheme which would help to compensate them for that loss.

There is a lot of sense in that suggestion. I am looking at it at the moment.

One of the difficulties there might be in that regard would be the matter presumably of a special air travel rate having to be devised and there might be difficulty over that with IATA. Perhaps the Minister will touch on that in his reply also? The Minister mentioned that Bord Fáilte and the Hotels Federation had agreed that it was not realistic in their marketing campaign to expect other than a drop in their potential earnings as compared with last year. That would be generally accepted particularly for the last month or two, but on the other hand also I think it would be generally accepted that the need exists now for a special look to be taken at the 1971 marketing campaign.

We may have been very wrong to have Bord Fáilte drop their marketing allocation this year to £130,000 and instead of trying to bring back their marketing allocation to that figure next year it may be necessary to bring it back much more, and this should be taken up at the present moment.

I was amazed at the totally false picture that I found existed in the minds of many foreigners about the state of this country. There is also a feeling that the money now spent in selling to the American market is growing, and I think that the Bord Fáilte projection on the American market is growing faster than the expenditure on the British market. The United States is a very large country and Ireland is a very small one, and any marketing allocation from a very small country spread across a very large country will have very little national impact. We are a small fish in a very big sea. But in relation to the British market we have in close proximity to us a country which is thickly populated, in which there are many people with Irish connections, and throughout which it is relatively easy to advertise and promote on a national basis. There is also the reduced costs for lifting the tourists from Britain and placing them in Ireland, which is what the whole job is about. The suggestion is that even though there is a potential in the United States market it is a dreadfully expensive market to develop and to service when the tourists come here, because they expect the standard of a continent in a small country, whereas the British market is one that is in close proximity to us, is one with which we have many ties and which will not be more expensive to service than our native market because they will expect about the same standard as we would of goods and services. Because of this there should not be any falling off in the push to develop the British market. They are the nearest people to us, with most sea ports and most air lifts to Ireland, and again with ties of family connections not going back to the father who was a Fenian link which still continues in the United States.

Might I just mention in regard to some changes which the Minister mentioned that Bord Fáilte have set out to bring about in regard to grants for hotel development? The point was made to me recently—I am not advocating very large grants to foreign offices on a large scale—that apparently some Irish Embassies abroad are carrying Bord Fáilte literature which gives quite a false picture of the marketing system because of the fact that some of the literature which reached the Embassies and Consulates about the Bord Fáilte grants carried information of approximately the year before. It would be important that this information would be up to date because of potential investors who would want to build hotels here, and sufficient promotional literature should be available in every office in every continental and foreign country which has connections with this country. I suggest that while Bord Fáilte may feel very happy with their display of promotional literature this is not the whole picture. It is a fact, as I have very good reason to know, that in their offices in large cities on the continent Bord Fáilte literature is difficult to obtain, and in one case which I came across they had one piece of literature and the only reason that they had it was that the Aer Lingus office had left to the Irish Consulate a dozen or so leaflets which they had. These consulates are often anxious to see tourist traffic to Ireland develop and would be only too pleased to distribute literature but in one office which I was in quite recently there was considerable difficulty in getting literature from the board.

I agree with the Senator who referred to the training of staff. Again this is a problem that we have. So many of our hotels have to concentrate on the seasonal tourist business that they cannot provide all-the-year-round employment. Also because of this as each season begins they commence with a relatively new and untrained staff. This presents headaches for the hotels at the commencement of each tourist season. Any training done by CERT or any such organisation is urgently needed in this field, and I would urge the Minister to encourage this as much as possible.

Might I just mention a personal crib? I feel that we in Ireland, when we cotton on to something, are inclined to go overboard about it, and I suggest to the Minister that we are gone absolutely overboard in thinking of festivals. Every little village and crossroads in the country has now at least a national festival, and some of the bigger crossroads are venturing into the international field. There comes a stage when everybody becomes terribly tired of festivals and comes to the conclusion and the realisation that a festival does not consist very often of much more than extended licensing laws in the publichouses and hotels in the nearest town. There ought to be an attempt on the part of the board to control this type of promotion so that the festivals that are run are real festivals and worth being promoted and worth visiting.

I agree very much with Senator Honan when he suggested that during the seasons when Irish hotels were enjoying a good business the Irish customer generally was not as welcome as his foreign counterpart. Let us face the reality that it is very difficult indeed to ask Irish people to be patriotic enough to fill Irish hotels when they know that those hotels last year and the year before were not interested in having them, and in many cases even at the present time the Irish people cannot get there approximately as cheap a holiday as in some continental countries.

Perhaps the Minister would answer two questions? If the present set of directors of Bord Fáilte are running into difficulties will the addition of two more really change the situation? The other question is this—the rent-a-cottage scheme is a very good one, but perhaps the Minister would give to the House the approximate weekly or monthly rental charges per person or family? This would be of interest especially when we are talking about prices.

In general I think that it would be accepted that the board has over the years done quite a remarkable job in boosting Ireland in the international tourist field. However, I feel that at this stage there is need for the Oireachtas, the Minister and his Department, together with Bord Fáilte, to review the whole grant system and to concentrate on grants as between resorts, hotels and promotional work and then to assess what is the most effective way of continuing the upward trend in tourism. It is perhaps fair to say that the standards of the system in the 1960's may turn out to be outmoded in the '70's, and that the time is ripe to have not just a stop-gap situation to try to shore up the breaches that are showing up this year. The thing to do would be to have a complete overhaul of Bord Fáilte's tourist promotion work and of the industry in general.

It is obvious that this country has something to offer to foreign tourists and I hope we will continue to offer it successfully and at prices which do not move in the way they have done during the past 18 months. We need a modernised approach by Bord Fáilte. If this Bill will help Bord Fáilte to do that it will be doing a good job.

I will make only three or four points in as many minutes. As a director of the Midland Tourist Board, I consider the most important point to be that of financing. It has been said here already that the investment campaign during the past few years in tourist regional organisations has been a complete failure. Throughout the eight regions not more than £80,000 was collected and invested. If the Minister is tied to such a system of financing he should allow the tourist organisations investing in this development to claim tax free allowances on the amounts invested. This would be a small but nevertheless important incentive and it would be far preferable if the Government would allocate to Bord Fáilte £100,000 extra for allocation in the eight regions.

We are told the tourist industry is worth £100 million a year. Yet to service the work of Bord Fáilte last year only £2.8 million was allocated. This figure can be and should be increased. Some people and some boards have said that county councils should be empowered to give more than the proceeds of 1d in the £. I do not agree because the people who pay the rates have been bled white already and a further burden should not be placed on them.

Senator McGlinchey said that the Fine Gael Party had advocated the appointment of a Minister for Tourism. In order to straighten the record, I should like to point out that two Fine Gael Deputies made that suggestion and that this cannot be attributed to the party. As a farmer, I listened with interest to the Senators who spoke of unreasonably high prices for produce. They have only to go to their own restaurant to see the extra being charged for mock cream. This is deplorable in an agricultural country. They can also notice the prices being charged for inexpensive produce such as eggs and chicken. These dishes cost too much in proportion to the cost to the producer.

I should like Bord Fáilte to co-operate with the Forestry Division to make more forest walks and drives available to the public. This has not been exploited. I hope that CIE, when they open their new offices in America, will not have duplication of services, that it will be possible to co-ordinate the services with those of other semi-State bodies so that we will not have in the same street in New York separate offices for Aer Lingus, Aerlínte, Bord Fáilte and CIE. All those bodies should be able to work in close harmony because all have affinity with the Department of Transport and Power.

I will deal with Senator McDonald's last point first. We have got a co-ordinating committee of the various State-sponsored bodies who work in the United States. They co-operate in regard to office accommodation and in regard to promotion. This relates to Aerlínte, CIE, Coras Tráchtála, Bord Fáilte and the others. This is functioning in a positive way already.

I wish to thank the Seanad for the constructive debate on this very important industry, one which is running into problems at the present time by reason of the fact that Bord Fáilte have created a situation where expansion has taken place in a very substantial way in a business in which problems are arising.

Now is the time to have a good, hard look at the current situation, to use Senator Russell's phrase at the beginning of the debate, at a very successful situation which Bord Fáilte initiated in the 'sixties, and to decide in the 'seventies what adjustments may have to be made and in which way our approach to tourist expansion should be recast, and generally in which way we as a nation should organise our tourist business in the years ahead.

For this reason, I met in recent weeks the members of Bord Fáilte, the trade unions interested and the Irish Hotels Federation. I have had meetings with the three bodies and there has been a very frank and constructive sharing of views with the idea of preparing plans now not only for next year but for five years ahead. Bord Fáilte and the Irish Hotels Federation will report back to me by the middle of September and in the meantime I have decided to introduce what one might call an interim way of dealing with the problem by appointing two additional directors to Bord Fáilte to ensure that expertise, experience and marketing ability will be brought to bear on the preparation of the plans for the coming season.

This in no way will militate against any fundamental proposals which I may bring in, and which may require legislation, to deal with the whole future development of tourism here. A commercial approach is necessary now in this competitive age. It is necessary also that emphasis should be laid on marketing, selling and on what you might call specific product selling. In that, Bord Fáilte have done an excellent job in selling the general image of Ireland to the world. They have done an excellent job in getting our people more tourist conscious and in getting them more involved in practical development work. What needs to be done now is to encourage people who are endeavouring to get specific business such as hoteliers, coach tour operators, self-drive car operators and travel agencies who may wish to sell Ireland as part of a European package. All of these people must be brought in more actively to the tourist industry and to the whole tourist marketing programme. At the moment, I am giving serious consideration to the question of having the scheme of marketing grants introduced for the industry on the same lines as the Córas Tráchtála scheme in respect of manufacturing for export.

Having said that, I want to make public acknowledgement of what has been done by Bord Fáilte between the years 1960 to 1970 in their development programme of that decade. The value of their work cannot be overemphasised. Some people in the Dáil saw fit to decry Bord Fáilte. This was not so in this House and I want to put on record that the debate here was more constructive than was the debate in the Dáil. There is no point in decrying Bord Fáilte because of the difficulties being encountered this year. These difficulties are specific ones and they must be isolated and itemised. They relate only to the month of June and can be attributed to the very sad publicity which our country, all 32 counties, was given by reason of the difficulties in the northern part of the country. My view is that these difficulties were the main contributors to the problem that arose and I am basing that view on the fact that business was up by 4.8 per cent for the first six months of the year. We have not yet seen any figures for the northern part of the country but I am of the opinion that at the moment business is up on the corresponding month, July, last year. Bookings are up for August, September and October on the corresponding months of last year.

The pattern emerging now is that for every month of this year until the end of October—we can only tell the full story at the end of November—other than the month of June the figures are up on the corresponding business of last year. The message, therefore, is clear as to what has happened in that respect and Bord Fáilte can share no part of the blame for that particular problem.

Investment from the State has been well worth while. In 1960 the Oireachtas voted £500,000 to Bord Fáilte. Now in 1970 we are increasing to £11 million the limit for holiday accommodation grants. That has resulted in very practical benefit in that the £5.5 million voted towards holiday accommodation in that ten year period out of what was heretofore allowed, a total of £36 million, was invested so that 14 per cent of public investment primed 86 per cent of private investment in the expansion of accommodation. From the national point of view the net effect of that was that a tourist income of £44 million in 1960 will become this year an income from the national point of view of more than £100 million. I say that with complete confidence. In 1960 there was hotel bedroom accommodation of 15,465 beds. In 1970 the figure is 23,300 and what is even more important hotel and guesthouse accommodation has increased from 17,800 beds to 27,800 this year which is a substantial increase.

An important feature is that there was practically no supplementary accommodation in the form of farmhouse accommodation and so on available in 1960 but now the number of beds available in this sort of accommodation stands at 9,700. This is supplementary accommodation, mainly farmhouse, approved by Bord Fáilte. That adds up to a substantial record of progress and all that is needed now is to have a clear look at the situation to realise that we are in a more competitive age. Also, countries that did not heretofore specialise in tourism have now proceeded to follow our example and Bord Fáilte have been admired by many other countries including Great Britain who did not specialise in the tourist business at all but who are now doing so. With this increasing awareness the competitive aspect of the tourist business is becoming more difficult so that we must have a look at the whole situation in a commercial and hard-headed way. That is the sort of exercise that I have discussed with Bord Fáilte and with the interests involved in the industry.

Senator Russell referred to the fact that on the reconstituted board there should be people of the highest ability. I can give the House the assurance that I gave to the Dáil to the effect that people of that character will be appointed in the form of the two new directors of Bord Fáilte. I shall be appointing these within the next two or three weeks. They will be people who can make a positive contribution as members of the board.

I want to emphasise a point that was raised by both Senators Russell and Boland that in so far as our friends in the northern part of the country are concerned there is the maximum co-operation between the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Bord Fáilte. I have had discussions with Mr. Bradford in connection with this and the two organisations co-operate in regard to publicity and every aspect of selling Ireland as one island. This is good business both for us and for them. It is in the interest of administration, too, that there would be co-operation. Indeed one would wish that that approach would apply in every sense as well as in the tourist sense.

Senator Russell spoke about the necessity for proper entertainment facilities and for facilities of a traditional flavour. This again is an aspect that I am considering at the present time. I agree that it is not sufficient to provide hotel or bedroom accommodation only. There is much more to the business than that. It is a comprehensive business in which entertainment and national cultural festivals as well as the many ancillary facilities play a large part because it is all important for the business that when visitors come, apart from having a bed on which to sleep, they can share in the atmosphere of our country.

A number of speakers mentioned the regional tourism organisations and the overlapping between Bord Fáilte and these organisations. We do have a Bord Fáilte representative on each of these organisations with a view to dealing with this particular problem but at the same time I agree with much that has been said. This is something which must be tackled more vigorously. There must be a greater unity of effort between the regional bodies and Bord Fáilte itself. I want to emphasise that one important contribution which Bord Fáilte has made to the whole morale of our community is the encouragement it has given to local and civic interest. The Tidy Towns competition is an obvious example, this helps to benefit our tourist effort. It is precisely the promotion of that sort of civic and voluntary effort which makes a community aware and conscious of tourism and makes the people interested in tourists in their own area. There is a two-way operation here: it is good sound business and it is good socially. I want to pay tribute to the voluntary organisations particularly the Irish Countrywomen's Association who have helped to make such competitions as the Tidy Towns competition an outstanding success. This merging of effort between State-sponsored bodies like Bord Fáilte and voluntary organisations has proved practical.

I agree with the view expressed that the smaller type hotels should be encouraged. The development of guesthouses and supplementary accommodation has been a main achievement of Bord Fáilte's activities over the past ten years but this does not mean to say that we can rule out the Grade A type hotel. Tourism is like education; it is a business that everybody has a view on. It is easy to be facile about it. We get a lot of laymen's opinions about it, but it is a highly complex and sensitive business. The notion that we can rule out a certain type of hotel and rule in other types of accommodations is wrong. There are about five or six different types of accommodation and in my view there is room for expansion in every one of them. It is too facile to say that we should have no luxury hotels and that we should only have a certain type of guesthouse or supplementary accommodation. We should have all types of accommodation. We are catering for a wide range of customers in this business. We have not priced ourselves out in any one of these fields. The sort of value given by some of the chains of hotels which specialise in package tour operations is very good for a certain type of customer. The traditional luxury Grade A type hotel is good value for other customers. But we must have guesthouse accommodation, farmhouse accommodation and modest type hotel accommodation to facilitate other people. We must have the whole range of options open to all visitors to this country as far as possible.

The rent-a-cottage scheme was referred to. This is a new development which is being pioneered in the Shannon region. It is working very well. We intend to extend it throughout the country to all regions. That is part of the purpose here of applying standards and drawing up a register of approved cottages of this kind. The point has been made that perhaps ten units is too large. I agree with this point and when the regulations are being made I propose to have the number of cottages which apply for such registration and approval reduced from ten.

Training of staff was mentioned and this is both important and fundamental. In the current year £120,000 has been allotted to CERT for recruitment and training in the hotel industry. We have over 900 young people, including management students, being trained under the auspices of CERT. I regard this as fundamental and Senator Alexis FitzGerald also referred to it as well.

Senator FitzGerald also made an important point that when people talk about expensive hotels the actual investment return is not all that excessive. He also referred as did Senator Boland to the question of marketing tourism. The assessment I have made in the past month as to the pros and cons of the problems facing the industry has borne out one important fact that any hotelier or person interested in tourism in any of its facets who went out and sold his product last autumn and winter has done well. I found this both at the top of the scale and at the bottom. This is a salutary example to people who did not go out and sell of precisely what must be done. Tourism like everything else must be sold.

Have they done relatively well or well in comparison with the others?

They have done all the business that they had hoped to do. I want to emphasise the importance of selling this industry because in many cases in the past people were inclined to sit back and take tourist business for granted. This will no longer be the case and in this industry as in every other industry the people concerned will have to go out and sell hard.

Senator Ní Eachthéirn mentioned the importance of the personality of the people who are selling tourism and this is certainly very true. Senator Kelly placed a lot of emphasis on conservation and preservation aspects in regard to tourism. I agree with much of what he said. As I mentioned earlier, the Tidy Towns competition is an example of Bord Fáilte's activity in this field. I am working with the Minister for Local Government at the moment to try to involve local authorities to a greater degree in the tourist industry. Under existing legislation, which has been in operation in this respect for the past 40 years, local authorities are limited to a rate of 1d in the £ in the case of county councils and in the case of Dublin, Cork and Limerick county boroughs they are limited to 3d in the £ in the amount they can contribute to tourism. I regard this an antiquated because I feel it is very important that local authorities and people in the area through their contributions by way of rates should get involved in the tourist industry instead of looking always to Bord Fáilte as if it was a bottomless pit. If the limit of 1d and 3d were raised to a much higher figure the local authorities in areas like Galway, Killarney, Tramore and Bundoran would be able to make a more positive contribution and get better involved. We are looking into this matter at the moment.

Mention was made of restaurants and "pub grub" establishments. This is a matter I have discussed with Bord Fáilte. I agree with many of the views that assistance should be given particularly with the development of mobile motorist tourist which is becoming an increasingly important factor in the tourist business.

School holidays were mentioned by Senator Quinlan. I agree with him. We tried this out with the various teaching organisations in 1962 and we are trying again to arrange staggered school holidays and a readjustment of the examination programme to enable holidays to be taken at a time which would be more advantagious in so far as the tourist season is concerned. The concentration of holidays in July and August does not make good business sense.

Senator Nash mentioned the point about hoteliers getting grants without any particular check in regard to their business efficiency or hotel management efficiency. I would like to say that in so far as hotel grants are concerned there have been no failures. Any hotelier who got a grant and got out of business sold his hotel and the business proceeded as before. There has been no problem in regard to defaults in the hotel grants. There have been literally no defaults. I would like to say as I said in the Dáil that I have suggested to Bord Fáilte that in order to clear the air in the matter that information in relation to grants should be published. These grants should be published as is done in the case of An Foras Tionscal. This will be done. These grants will be published in the next report of the board. I must emphasise that the percentage grant should be displayed as well. The great majority of cases assisted by Bord Fáilte are small hoteliers with small grants. There are some large hoteliers helped as well. Larger hoteliers and firms have got the lowest percentage grant. The figures should be shown percentages so as to indicate fully what has been given. This should be done to clear the air so that nobody is under any misconception about people being assisted or not being assisted.

Senator Brugha referred to a point mentioned about the new competitive element in tourism. I agree with the Senator totally on this. The Senator also raised the point to which I have referred about grant details. The Senator mentioned cheaper beer. I will take up this question with the brewers.

A lower gravity beer would be an attraction, but there is nothing much I can do about that apart from taking up the question with the brewers. Senator Brugha mentioned another point with which I agree. It comes back to a matter I referred to earlier and that is the question of the involvement of the local authorities and business people in Bord Fáilte by reason of the establishment of regional tourism organisations. The figures the Senator mentioned are right. In 1964 the contribution to the old Irish Tourist Association was £20,000. The figure is now £78,000. Business subscriptions are running in the region of £130,000. This is the money which has been generated by way of contribution from local authorities through the regional tourist organisations. Senator Brugha also referred to the question of what the economists call the multiplier effect on tourism. The experts have worked out that we have an equivalent of 160,000 jobs from tourism. It is a multiplier matter which cannot be itemised in precisely so many jobs. That is the gist of it. This is quite a substantial achievement.

I do not think there is anything else of great importance. I hope I have covered most of what was mentioned. Many Senators came back on the same type of questions to which I had already referred. Senator Boland mentioned the fact of the regional boards being given funds themselves for regional development investment. I will have that point looked into.

In conclusion, I should like to say that there is one other matter which has often come up for discussion and that is the actual real contribution from tourist income. Going back to 1968 figures, where a breakdown was done about this, the indication was that there was a total income from tourism of £93 million. Tourists in general contributed £55.6 million. Tourists visiting relatives contributed £12.9 million Tourists on business contributed £2 million. There was £2 million miscellaneous; and fares paid to Irish transport companies amounted to £17.3 million. So far as the 1968 figures were concerned more than half the tourist income came directly from tourists as such attracted here.

I would like to say in conclusion that we have here a measure that expresses confidence in the future of this industry, the importance of which cannot be gainsaid. I said in the Dáil and I want to say again here that the difficulties and problems that have been encountered in June of this year are not so fundamental as to indicate any real malaise in the industry. It is just a question of having a good hard look at the situation and adjusting the approach of Bord Fáilte, as I said in my opening remarks, to a more marketing hard commercial approach. More money will have to be spent on specific promotion and to assist the interests concerned in the industry to go out and get more people to come in here. It is as simple and straightforward as that. I feel that with this type of orientation we can make progress in the years ahead, but what is important is to tackle it now, and for that reason I am expanding membership of the board of Bord Fáilte with a view to tackling it straight away. I do not think that there is anything fundamentally wrong in our whole approach, and when we come to the end of the year I think that it will prove my point, and I also think that we will see a revenue of over £100 millions by the new year. There will be increased tourist income from this season. It may not be as much of an increase as we anticipated but it will be increased tourist income, and the basic upward curve that we saw during the sixties can be accelerated and improved and followed on by a more thorough marketing and commercial approach to the situation. This is a situation that I intend to apply my mind to, and Bord Fáilte are well aware of that particular aspect of the problem.

The Bill itself is evidence of our confidence in the future of tourism. It guarantees this increased investment by the community in grants and loans for hotel accommodation, increased encouragement towards cottage type development, an expansion of the board itself to apply the business-like material I have mentioned, and therefore to ensure that so far as the 'seventies are concerned we can prime this very useful economic pump which is the tourist industry and which has become in the 'sixties our second major industry and can achieve that status more positively before the end of the 'seventies. I would like to be here in 1980, when I see £200 million income from tourism.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.