White Paper on Tourism Policy: Motion (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
That Seanad Éireann takes note of the White Paper on Tourism Policy.
—(Senator Dooge.)

On the last occasion I did not have much time to go into any of the matters in great detail. I dealt solely with a portion of the report of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Catering and Leisure. I would like to start this morning by dealing with the White Paper on Tourism Policy. This is not a very lengthy document. It has 83 pages. When I say not lengthy I mean in comparison with some of the documents and the reports that we have dealt with, for example, the Whitaker report on Prison Reform. It contains 19 short chapters. Nevertheless, I must say that I feel it is an important document. It deals with the subject in quite a comprehensive way. Because it is so important and because tourism, after industry and agriculture, is very important for this country I feel that all Members of the House will want to make a contribution.

The report starts off by telling us that tourism policy needs to be reassessed by reference to the problem of unemployment. The Government are giving priority to tourism in their efforts to tackle unemployment. I commend this approach. I think it is the correct one. With imagination much can be done to improve the situation as regards unemployment. Obviously, this will take time and thought. I believe that a start could be made, as regards giving employment, by manning tourist offices in the important locations throughout the country.

This is one thing, in my own town, that we have missed for the last number of years. This would give employment, which might be limited employment but, nevertheless, it would be a good start. Perhaps young people who have left secondary school or are attending secondary school could be employed. We had a pilot project in Kells last year for a limited period and the Minister, Deputy Bruton, was good enough to come down and inaugurate the scheme. It was very successful. I think that this is an area where a start could be made. The tourist office and tourist information centre are most important. Of course, the funds are limited and so must be used wisely. Nevertheless, I feel that in this important area an effort should be made to provide more funds and finances.

The report tells us that the driving force for a forward movement in tourism must be entrepreneurial capacity rather than additional Government funding. The aim of this document is to provide a framework within which individuals can undertake new tourist enterprises. The report really gives us a skeletal framework on which to build and which will be fleshed out over a period of time. Eventually, through this document we will have a body which will be energetic and active rather than obese and moribund, and which will be the turning point as regards tourism.

I notice that in this report — and this is possibly a pedantic point of no great significance and something I would not have noticed were I not dealing with the two reports at the one time — and in all Government reports the Government are considered in the plural — the Government "are". I notice the committee "states", the committee "is" and the committee "has". It is just a small detail and probably has no signifiance and it is probably an established practice.

In the late 1970s the National Economic and Social Council were asked by the Government to consider tourism, and its report was published in December 1980. It is NESC Report No. 52, Tourism Policy. The report identified ten problem areas facing the tourism industry. The council did not, however, agree with all the conclusions and recommendations of the consultant who had prepared part 2 of the report. It is not indicated here what parts they were in disagreement about. It was decided, in response to the outstanding issues raised by that NESC report, that the Department of Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism would itself carry out a review of tourism policies. It looked at the overall tourism objective. It was felt that an increased emphasis had to be placed on the need to ensure an adequate return from the resources allocated to the development of tourism. This is something that I would imagine would have been regarded as fundamental in any report. The Department's review is interesting because the national objective was revised to optimise the economic and social benefits to Ireland of the promotion and development of tourism, both to and within the country, consistent with ensuring an adequate and acceptable economic rate of return on the resources employed and taking account of five factors.

These are five very important factors. The first one was tourism's potential for job creation. As I said before, I agree that this should be number one. This has been added by the Government, which indicates the priority which the Government have. The second one is the quality of life and development of the community, which again must be the primary purpose of tourism and, indeed, industry and industrial development. The third one was the enhancement and preservation of the nation's cultural heritage, which again is most important. The fourth factor was the conservation of the physical resources of the country, which is developed in some detail later on in the report and which I intend to go into in some little detail. The fifth factor relates to tourism's contribution to regional development.

The report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Small Businesses was issued on 3 April of this year and this report was issued in September. I am disappointed that more use was not made of this report in preparing the White Paper. The White Paper tell us in paragraph 1.15:

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Small Businesses recently reported on Tourism, Catering and Leisure. The Minister, in formulating and developing tourism policy, will, of course, have regard to this valuable report which will also be considered by the Oireachtas in due course.

I appreciate that the Minister will take into account the recommendations of the joint committee report. It seems to me that within that period, which is practically a six month period, more account could have been taken of the report in the preparation of this White Paper. Nevertheless, I am not too critical in that regard because I realise there are difficulties and printing delays. My understanding of this is that the report of the joint committee has had very little impact on this White Paper.

The Government's national economic planBuilding on Reality contains references to tourism policy. It tells us that the limitations of space require that these be brief — and they are fairly brief. This White Paper is now taking the opportunity to provide the details which are necessary. Dealing with the importance of tourism, the White Paper tells us that the Government maintain that every area of the country has some tourism potential. This is something with which I would agree. While we have some beautiful scenic areas, some historic areas and some areas which, for various reasons are given special treatment which they deserve, there are areas — and I feel that this is something which needed to be stressed — in which the tourism potential has not been exploited. I feel, having regard to this reference in the White Paper, that this is something which will be taken care of in the future, and I welcome that.

The Tidy Towns Competition, initiated by Board Fáilte 25 years ago, has been a major factor in developing tourism consciousness in areas not traditionally associated with the industry. The Tidy Towns Competition has done marvellous work in this country. The winning of the competition has not been the sole objective. Areas which have never won the competition, and never will win, have benefitted immensely. I do have to say that the areas which have won awards have benefitted most, because in those areas I can see there was great co-operation among the community. Only where there was great co-operation have awards been won. In Trim, in my own county, for example, which has won the premier award on a couple of occasions, groups in the various estates throughout the town have undertaken to be responsible for their own areas. They have succeeded in cleaning up spaces and making them presentable. In this way the Tidy Towns Competition has done marvellous work. I believe there is much more to be done in this regard.

Coming to the role of public and private sectors, the White Paper tells us that all involved in the tourism industry generally must be prepared to complement Bord Fáilte's activities to a greater extent then heretofore. Again, this is understandable. In some general sense everybody in the country benefits, but those who directly benefit should make some contribution in this area. In the nature of our economy the State may give support, but expansion, increased profits and additional employment can only come from the efforts of those directly involved in tourism itself. Greater effort is needed. This is something that is examined in some considerable detail. It is something that I would be in total agreement with. Those who get most out of the tourist industry should be expected to put a lot back into it.

A new approach by Bord Fáilte will be the development of brand marketing of particular products in the marketplace. A target for the establishment of three branded hotel groupings over the next two years has been set. I am sure that this is commendable. I know that significant changes are taking place in the area of accommodation, particularly hotels. There is a possibility — and I have seen this referred to in recent newspaper articles — that some hotels will lose out considerably in this regard. The hotels which are selected, no doubt, will benefit. I am sure the country as a whole will benefit. I am also sure that there are many establishments which have spent considerable amounts of money in extending and improving their premises and have built up a good business. It would be unfortunate if these people suffered on this account. I am sure a great deal of thought has been given to this area. A radical change like this is not taken lightly. Nevertheless, I would have great sympathy for those hotels which have fulfilled an important role in this area of tourism. If they are on this account going to suffer, I think this proposal should be looked at again with considerable sympathy.

With regard to import tourism, the report in chapter 5 goes into this matter in detail. Apparently, there is not very much such tourism. It is considered in the White Paper, as I understand it, that there is not very much that can be done to promote domestic holidays in this country. The report tells us:

On the evidence there is little justification for allocating additional marketing resources to persuade Irish people to switch from foreign to domestic holidays. At the same time it is felt that Bord Fáilte should try to develop new ways of encouraging domestic holidays among Irish people aimed at particular niches in the market where substitution could be achieved.

It is unfortunate that there are so many people who aspire to holidays abroad. The majority of those people have not explored the Irish market. There would be many places in our own country they would not have visited. We have many places to visit. More could be done in the way of promotion in this area. I would not be as pessimistic as the White Paper appears to be about this. I believe a considerable amount could be done. The majority of the people in this country have not explored the wonderful scenic areas which we have in tourist resorts.

The question of competitiveness has been dealt with by Senator Lynch and Senator Howard. I do not intend to go into it in any detail. Competitiveness is very important in every area of life, not just tourism. Of course, with tourism being so important to this country, competitiveness is vital. The White Paper tells us that even in primary tourism destinations prices become an important factor in determining demand. Therefore, in secondary destinations, such as this country, competitiveness is more important. The Government are conscious of this. By reducing the VAT on hotel accommodation, caravans and boat and car hire from 23 per cent to 10 per cent they have helped enormously. It should be considered, if it would be possible to reduce the VAT on food in hotels. Everybody knows that this presents a problem in hotels. Obviously, from the whole tenor of this White Paper, particularly with regard to competitiveness, if it were possible to reduce the VAT on food in hotels and in the catering institutions, this would have a great impact on tourism.

With regard to the general environment for tourism, the White Paper goes into this aspect in sufficient detail to indicate that it is most important. We all know that it is important. We know that without reference to the White Paper. The White Paper emphasises this importance and deals with the different areas in detail. We are told that the attractions of this country as a tourism destination are as follows. Scenery and natural environment. It is well-known that some parts of the country are noted for their scenic amenities, from the areas which would be regarded as sublime to those areas which may not be so distinguished. Culture is rated as our second attraction, and the third attraction is our friendly people. I hope we are not losing out in this area but, having regard to the changes over my lifetime, I feel that in general people are not so friendly as they were. Indeed, they have good reason in many cases, not to be friendly. Our fourth tourist attraction is, in the case of our two biggest markets, Britain and North America, the widespread use of the English language.

We know that Ireland is not a primary sun destination. The White Paper tells us it is a market of limited appeal. Looking objectively at this, we would have to agree. Nevertheless, I would be inclined to contend that the appeal is not all that limited, taking everything into consideration and realising that the sun and the weather matter most to people who tend to take holidays.

The political factor of Northern Ireland has severely inhibited development of our nearest and largest market, Britain. Other markets have been affected also. We all hope that the recent agreement will be a success, not just for this purpose, but for that reason as well as the many other important reasons.

Ireland is geographically isolated from its main markets. Therefore, the availability of convenient and price competitive access transport is a critical factor. This is an area which has been discussed in some detail by Senator Michael Lynch, who is a member of the committee. I can add nothing to that except to agree that it is most important and that if anything can be done to improve this competitiveness it should be done.

The report tells us, optimistically, that these disadvantages are not insurmountable. Looking at them in some detail, I believe they are not insurmountable; but, nevertheless, we are left with them. The weather factor is very difficult to surmount. At the same time other Members of the House have spoken about indoor sports and indoor facilities. In that way I am sure, if the necessary finances were provided, this drawback regarding the weather could be overcome. Perhaps, after the bad summer we had last year, we may be inclined to over emphasise the weather. The previous year gave us one of the best summers in my lifetime. Generally, for the two months of the year, during the primary tourist season, our weather is good. We should not underline it as a disadvantage that cannot be dealt with and overcome.

With regard to the large number of tourists we have had from North America in the last couple of years, this has been discussed and has been attributed to the strong dollar, which led to an upsurge of tourism in Europe as a whole. The point has been made by other Members that we could have done better from this and that our share in the tourist market was not as high as it could have been. Again, on account of this White Paper I believe that this should mark a turning point in this regard.

The White Paper deals with the different countries from which tourists come. It deals with North America, the United Kingdom, continental Europe, Far East-Australia and, lastly by domestic holidays in Ireland. It is interesting what it has to say in the final paragraph, under Ireland:

It is unlikely that real disposable incomes in Ireland will rise significantly in the immediate future. Accordingly, it would be unrealistic to anticipate any rapid increase in the level of domestic holiday expenditure. Nevertheless, Bord Fáilte's future strategy for the home market will be directed towards building on the present overall level of the domestic long holiday market and expanding the short and off-peak holiday segments through promotions built round activity and special interest holidays for our younger population.

I feel much could be done in this area perhaps through promotions in schools and even perhaps, by reducing the summer holidays and providing a weekly holiday at some other time of the year, encouraging the students to visit different places in the country and to tie this in with examinations and school and college curricula. Something worthwhile could be done in this area, even by promotion in the schools through literature and leaflets. A tremendous amount could be done to encourage young people to visit different places in the country, historic places and the scenic places that they read about but which many of the people in the country up to now have seldom seen.

The White Paper tells us that "The environment is of primary importance to the overall tourism product". Of course, the environment is of primary importance to every activity in the country. "It is important that the image of a clean environment is preserved. Indeed, it marks sound economic sense to bolster this image by investing in environmental management and pollution control and in the preservation and development of amenities". It is extraordinary, having regard to the planning laws which we have had in effect, since 1963, that more has not been done in this area.

The White Paper refers to the different problems we have in the country. Littering is a problem about which I would be pessimistic. I do not know how this can be dealt with. We have the Litter Act, 1982. In places this has resulted in improvement; but in my own area and in the different places I pass through from time to time I see the problem of litter as a major one. I realise that education can help in this regard. Nevertheless, I also feel that many of the people who are responsible for the litter problem — I see people from time to time throwing cigarette packets and empty bottles and parcels out of car windows — are well educated. It is disappointing and it does point to some lack in the character of the people. Even in cases where it seems that there is tidiness, it can often be at the expense of littering in other ways. In my own town of Kells there is a small field that runs along the roadway. The roadway is kept tidy and clean by the council workers and it is kept clean by throwing the tin cans and other litter across the hedge. This is not dealing with the problem.

Water pollution is identified here as a major problem. It is such a major problem that Meath County Council in the past few weeks have brought out a major report on the problems of east Meath due to the overspill from Dublin. This report has been presented to the county council. It is a comprehensive report which could be taken into account in dealing with the matter of water pollution, because the problem in that area is really the density, having regard to the use of septic tanks. There is a serious problem and a danger of diseases of different kinds. There are identified in the report. That is a special area in east Meath which has a problem due to the proximity to the city and people wanting to commute from that area. There is a danger of pollution of the underground water at all levels.

Something should be done by the IIRS with regard to the use of septic tanks.

This is an unsatisfactory way of dealing with domestic sewage and yet it is the only way. It is strange that, with all the developments in technology, nothing better has been discovered. The IIRS report, SR 6, states that in some circumstances it may be necessary to allocate an acre site to a house. But in some situations where the soakage and the percolations are unsatisfactory, a site of even one acre may not be acceptable. Something should be done about this. The IIRS report while it has been very helpful and has assisted people in determining whether the ground was suitable or not for a septic tank, by and large has not been as helpful as it might have been. In one area the report states that a septic tank could be sited 23 feet from a private house and yet in the planning regulations I do not know of any situation where this would be allowed. The minimum, according to all the planning authorities I have been in contact with, is 60 feet. Even the IIRS report, which had regard specifically to this danger of water pollution, in regard to the important area of distance from the house is not being followed by the planning authorities. Something more should be done in that regard and something specifically should be done to see if it would be possible to get rid of septic tanks and deal with the domestic sewage in a better way.

Increasing noise levels are identified as a serious problem. This is another area where it is not easy to see that improvements can be carried out, because in the urban areas in particular and where roadworks — pneumatic drills and so on — and traffic are concerned, it is difficult to see what great improvement can be made there.

Unsightly development is identified as a serious problem. We would agree with this and identify unsightly development all over the country and in the city. This was dealt with in great detail in a publication recently. Unsightly development can be a subjective thing. Some people might take the view that houses in a rural area could constitute unsightly development. Extremists might feel that houses in a rural area, particularly houses for people who are not employed in agriculture, inpinge on the amenity value of the environment. To an extent I would disagree with this. The report on Building Land points out that the one-off house was very important and without it it would not have been possible to cater for housing needs over the last number of years particularly in the late seventies. While unsightly development is something we would agree with as underlined here, nevertheless, I feel that this should be looked at in some detail.

Air pollution is also mentioned as causing a problem to some extent. This is being dealt with, I believed by the Government. Over the last week or so there has been an amount of discussion regarding open fires and their contribution to air pollution. With regard to EC regulations, we are behind time in dealing with this problem. In a seminar last week it was pointed out that the problem is more acute than we realise. This could be overcome by encouraging people to use closed stoves and by providing grants to encourage people to use closed stoves and in some areas using only smokeless fuels. The use of the incentives of the grants and also a little urging by way of regulations would help in this area.

The White Paper says that "recent changes in the law relating to agricultural structures have resulted in some improvement". I am not familiar with these recent changes but I would be in agreement with any changes that would result in an improvement. Agricultural development in the country has damaged the amenity area of a locality. Agriculture is a priority in the country. What happens in some cases is that a cluster of houses would be built in a rural area and the local farmer might decide to enter into some area of farming which might be considered a nuisance, for example, pig production. The people in the houses would consider that this would devalue their property and objections have been raised in many cases. In an agricultural country it should be understood that agriculture is a priority and that people who go out into the country take that risk. No farmer should be restricted in his activities because of objections by people who have moved from an urban area to the country.

In my area not far from Navan a beautiful church, Kilbarry Church, is ruined by the proximity of agricultural buildings. This was unfortunate. This is not the only area. This has happened not to the same extent all over the country. If the recent regulations have succeeded in changing that, they will have done a great day's work.

The White Paper refers to An Foras Forbartha report on the State of the Environment which outlines the current position. I would like to have studied that publication but we do not have it in the Library here in the House. We do not get copies of all the expensive publications by An Foras Forbartha. We only get copies of the cheaper ones which is a pity. The Library is very important to us and the staff there are very helpful. All the publications of An Foras Forbartha should be available in the Library.

The report also refers to the recently launched Environmental Awareness Bureau. Its intention is to help in this area. I wish it success. We are told in the report that the Government will encourage the local authorities to pay particular attention to the need to make their areas more attractive for tourists, and in so doing to draw on the assistance of local voluntary groups in carrying out desirable projects. Without the assistance of local voluntary concerned groups it would be very difficult to make progress in this area. The record of the Tidy Towns shows that the greatest success has been in areas where local voluntary groups have taken charge of areas. We should pay tribute to the volunteers who have worked unselfishly for this cause.

At the direction of the Government, Bord Fáilte is now embarking on a more active approach in encouraging the development and presentation of the environment.

This will include seven different areas and it is worthwhile mentioning them—

(i) the identification of sites and sources of serious littering particularly with regard to abandoned vehicles.

We have this problem all over the country. It is important to make progress in this area. It is difficult to know how it will be made because even in my own town I see a vehicle, perhaps, stolen. It is left abandoned in a particular place and after a few days it is vandalised. It then becomes an eyesore and a problem. This is happening in urban and rural areas. I agree that it is a number one priority.

(ii) the agreement of a pilot area with the City and County Managers' Association which would be a model for a project on litter bin design, provision and servicing,

This is important. It is an area where we could usefully take the example of other countries. In Britain sponsorship does an enormous amount of work in this area. People sponsor the bins. Their names are shown on those decorative concrete fixed bins. This is something that was tried out in different areas of Ireland but it was not as successful as it might have been. If a concentrated effort were made to make it successful I do not see any reason why it should not be

(iii) the computerised mapping of the country's physical attractions,

I am not sure how this map would be used but it should be reasonably simple to prepare this computerised map. In this age of electronics this is indispensable.

(iv) the carrying out of a study of our national heritage of outstanding landscapes to identify those areas of tourist importance which may be under threat from development,

This is important and might not be as difficult to carry out as it seems. All the planning authorities in the different areas are very conscious of the amenity. With some organisation by Board Fáilte and the planning authorities it would be a relatively simple matter to have this study carried out.

(v) a review of recent reports on water pollution with a view to producing a policy document on the current and future implications, for tourism, of trends in water quality,

There is a deterioration in the water quality in particular areas of greatest concentration. It is important that we would make progress in this area. The treatment of domestic sewage is the greatest problem. The IIRS should be asked to deal with this problem and see what could be done as regards pollution.

(vi) the intensification of Bord Fáilte co-operation with planning authorities in the operation of the planning Acts,

Bord Fáilte are involved in the planning process. They are co-operating to the extent that is possible with the planning authorities, but if intensification of this will bring about a greater improvement I would be in favour of it also.

(vii) the intensification of Bord Fáilte co-operation with the Department of the Environment, particularly in relation to the Environment Awareness Bureau which has been recently set up.

The report refers to the desirability of bringing any specific actions considered necessary to the special notice of the local authorities concerned for appropriate action. This is being done. I hope that, as a result of this, that something more will come from it. I mentioned the Tidy Towns Competition before and the importance of this competition for the country and what it has achieved. It is very difficult to quantify the achievements of the Tidy Towns Competition.

The White Paper emphasises this importance and refers to the civic awards scheme operated by Bord Fáilte which has been a source of considerable community interest and teamwork. It says that it has been instrumental in generating an increased awareness and understanding within local communities of the need to protect and cherish our environmental heritage. The report then goes on to tell us it is extending the scope of the scheme through a series of awards of excellence. I agree with this. This will enable us to get a greater return from the Tidy Towns Competition.

The report gives us the different headings under which it intends to set up the awards of excellence. The National Tidy Districts Awards will bring every area within the scope of the Tidy Towns Competition. There is also the Commercial Street Award. At a time when there is so much criticism regarding the destruction of our streets and streetscapes, when old buildings are being renewed and plastic signs are being used and gaudy fronts, I think it is important to try to preserve our heritage, particularly the old shop fronts and family businesses. We have an important heritage to preserve. There is a tendency to discard the family name and to use names from television films such as "Dynasty" or "Dallas". It is important to retain the old tradition of the family name and the beautiful, simple shop fronts. The Commercial Street Award will make a determined effort to preserve the old streetscapes.

A Best Local Authority Housing Estate Award is also contemplated. This will bring all housing estates within the ambit of the Tidy Towns Competition. Perhaps some housing estates may be at a disadvantage: their designs may not be regarded as conforming to modern developments. I am sure all these things will be taken into consideration. It is an important development and will bring a considerable area, which is not at present availing of the Tidy Towns Competition, within the ambit of that competition.

The Tidy Beaches Award is next on the list. I come from an area near Bettystown and Laytown which has a beautiful beach. This award will improve such areas as I have mentioned. They remain undamaged and unexploited. This award will be very helpful to all beach areas.

The recreation and amenity and urban development awards will be of enormous benefit to the environment. But when will these awards be brought into operation? I would urge the Minister having identified those areas and having decided to extend the competition to cover these areas, to include them in the tidy towns competition immediately.

With regard to the question of litter, the report refers to the irresponsible attitude of Irish people to litter, including the abandonment of used vehicles. It states that this is in sharp contrast to that found in the rest of western Europe. It is difficult to understand why people contribute to the enormous problem of litter. Indeed our bogs have become polluted with litter. There is a beautiful bog close to my home town of Kells. I worked in it in my youth. At that time it was a beautiful, clean place. If I had a few slices of bread left over from my lunch I would put it under a few sods of turf to preserve it and it would be perfect when I came back to it.

Now the place is infested with rats and vermin. It is covered with litter and abandoned cars. The county council made a dump of part of it and covered it over with soil when the dump was closed. While it appeared presentable it was, I think, a mistake to have a dump in a beautiful area of bog with sylvan setting including heather. Even though the dump is closed people still throw refuse indiscriminately in drains and elsewhere throughout the bog. While the council were wrong in spoiling such a beautiful area, nevertheless the start was made by the people living in the towns nearby. Some of the beautiful trees, the silver birch trees, have been cut down, presumably for firewood. Silver birch is of poor quality for firewood but it is one of the most beautiful trees which grow in our boglands. This position is irreversible and these actions are criminal.

Under the heading of planning, the White Paper tells us that there is a need for a more rigorous and consistent enforcement of planning regulations. I would not agree totally with that. The regulations at present are rigorous enough. I fail to understand how any development could be carried out which would contravene the amenities of an area. Unnecessary obstacles are sometimes placed before people who have proposed development, perhaps to build a private dwelling house. Great sympathy should be given to those people. Except in really exquisite scenic areas, such areas as are best described as sublime, development need not necessarily blemish the amenities. A good designer with the necessary resources should be able to complement any area and improve it with development.

We are told that a particular problem arises with uncontrolled caravan and camping developments. It is difficult to understand how this can be, seeing that it is necessary to have planning permission for such sites. We are also told that the Minister for the Environment is reviewing the provisions of the 1948 Act with a view to extending the licensing provisions to the whole country, which strangely is not the position at the moment. There does not seem to be any great difficulty in extending that Act to the whole country. If a serious problem has been identified in this regard surely it is critical to have this extension without delay.

Water pollution is also dealt with in the White Paper on page 36. The two sources of pollution which have had the most damaging effect are inadequately treated sewage and agricultural waste and run-off. I have already dealt briefly with the domestic sewage. Agricultural waste and run-off are of great importance and in some areas more important. Large stretches of our rivers have been denuded of fish because of the unfortunate or thoughtless actions of farmers or because of accidental discharge. It is important that people involved in that area of agriculture where there is the possibility of waste run-off should understand what is involved and exercise every precaution to ensure that it does not develop. A few years ago fish life in quite a large stretch of the Blackwater river was destroyed when a farm machine carrying out spraying leaked into the river. Something in the region of 50 large salmon were taken from the river, not to count the other fish.

In this area, coarse fishing could be as important as angling. I can recall a few years back going out in the mornings to work and noticing dozens of cars passing down to the beautiful lakes in County Cavan and, indeed, some of the lakes in County Meath. All these cars had small boats and their equipment attached. That is something that has dwindled noticeably in the last few years. Perhaps this could be attributed in considerable measure to pollution and to the destruction of fish life in those areas. In this regard a working party in the Department of the Environment is preparing a manual to provide comprehensive advice on the standards and controls which should be applied to farm development. This is important and urgent and I would be in total agreement with it. In the North of Ireland, for example, a very useful manual is provided to all people making planning applications. It is a guide for householders and a similar one should be supplied in this country, so that we would have the same criteria applying all over the country, with of course, the various other criteria which might apply to localised areas in the literature of the planning authority. It is important to have a manual or a guide of this kind for people who intend to build, particularly in the agriculture area where a considerable amount of harm has been done — not deliberately. By means of proper education and a comprehensive, simple guide this problem would be overcome.

Marine wreckage is referred to as a problem and indeed in the very short area of beach which we have in County Meath the beautiful amenity has been spoiled for a considerable number of years by a wreck. It is a pity that these wrecks cannot be moved more speedily. They seriously damage the environment. It was proper and correct to identify the problem in the White Paper.

The taking of beach material is another problem which is difficult to deal with but we have the Foreshore Act, 1933, and perhaps the local authorities could make a greater effort in this regard. I know that in all areas there are notices stating that it is illegal to move beach material but there should be some kind of supervision also. This should be possible and again, it would be worthwhile and it would be in line with the primary objective of this White Paper to provide extra employment.

In this area of amenity, conservation is most important and this is dealt with in the report. It states that this need is particularly acute in relation to the conservation and preservation of wet lands and peat lands which are the natural habitat of migratory species of birds and other species of flora and fauna. I have already spoken about that in relation to the bogs which are convenient to Kells. I suppose it also applies in other areas of development, for example, the Boyne drainage scheme and the other various drainage schemes. A considerable amount of damage has been done in this area. I think that it is possible to get into a situation where improvement would be difficult. Improvement is necessary and progress is necessary.

In the case of the Boyne drainage, for example, the beautiful rivers which had curving banks seem to have disappeared. Areas where I fished and indeed worked for many long days, along the river Meadow are greatly changed and now in place of the river we have practically a canal, with steep banks. The fishing has been interfered with; I will not say "destroyed" because I believe that salmon fishing in the last year was an improvement on anything up to then, but the trout fishing has been interfered with. The flora and fauna have been interfered with. I resent this. Beautiful parts of the river with overhanging trees have been destroyed. This is something I regret, but at the same time progress is necessary and I know farmers there who have benefited to quite an extent. I know one farmer who had 20 acres of land along the river, which in his lifetime and in the lifetime of anybody else around, grew nothing but rushes. For the last few years he has grown crops of wheat, oats and barley in that area.

Progress is necessary and we must move with the times, but more care should be taken to restore the banks, the spawning beds and the fish. From the point of tourism this is very important. Undoubtedly, through the drainage works there, from which the farming community have benefited, there has been a reduction in the fishing and therefore tourism has suffered. I am speaking for one area. This has happened all over. While it is easy to be critical of the Office of Public Works and the drainage works, I am not really critical: over the last few years they have been very concerned about the state in which they left the banks and the rivers. We must take into consideration, on the one hand, the necessity to improve this agricultural land and on the other hand the damage that is caused. While making progress every effort should be make to minimise this damage.

The report deals in chapter 10 with internal transport. I do not intend to go into it in any detail, but it states that:

The Government are already committed to a programme of major improvements to the national road network.

I come up from Kells to Dublin and I have a good road as far as Clonee and indeed the main road from the northern end of Donegal right through Cavan, Kells and Navan is a first class road. Then we come into that area from Clonee, a few miles of road which is narrow, which has only a margin or a footpath on one side and where, if I am coming up in the morning behind a tractor or behind a JCB or behind farm machinery, I and all the other motorists must stay behind the vehicle in front because there are bends. It seems strange to me that, while all the roads have been improved over the years from north Donegal right up to Clonee, this bottleneck has been left. It would have seemed sensible to improve this road at the start, improve the exit and the entrance to the capital city. It must be the worst road into the city.

I am glad to see fromIrish Road Statistics, 1985— a handbook by the Confederation of Irish Industry — that this part of the road is to be improved. I welcome that. It is very important. It states here that in the Navan relief road in Meath, 3.5 kilometres, will be completed in 1986, a new road to allow traffic using the entry to by-pass Navan. That work is in progress at the moment and it will be one of the most beautiful by-pass roads in the country because it runs part of the way along the river. But this other road — 8.9 kilometres from Clonee into Dublin — will be completed in 1986. I welcome that very much. It is long overdue. Serious accidents have happened along that road. I have been held up at one time by an accident in which a man lost his life while cycling on that road. That area of internal transport and roads is most important and I particularly welcome the proposal to have this road completed in 1986.

Coach tours and car hire is taken into account in the White Paper — and this is important — which also deals with signposting. Those of us who have travelled through the country canvassing for a Seanad seat know that signposting leaves a lot to be desired in many areas, particularly for the tourist trade. Signposting in a general sense is covered by the planning laws and regulations. There are many aspects of it in which the Government and the local authorities should be complimented. Even in my own area the Boyne route is signposted, and has been signposted very well over the last few months. I welcome that. On the other hand, signposting can be a major problem with private individuals. To erect a sign on a business premises or any premises it is necessary to get planning permission. I know of one case where a married lady did a course in AnCO — a start-your-own-business course — and she passed the course. She set up a small guesthouse and provided the facilities that were necessary. To a large extent, she was and is very successful. But she was refused planning permission to have an advance sign for her business. This kind of thing should not be allowed to happen. This lady, whose husband was helping her with the business, had gone to considerable expense to have premises that were suitable for the business, but she was not allowed to provide an advance sign. She is just inside the Cavan border. She applied to Cavan County Council and was refused. The indications were that, if she applied again, she would be refused. I believe she was informed that she would have no problem with Meath County Council.

This brings us back to the planning regulations where we should have uniformity and consistency. This is an area that should be looked at. Somebody making a livelihood from a particular business should not be debarred, provided tasteful signs that are not offensive and not too big are erected within certain areas. There should be some allowance for people to do this even for a particular period — during the tourist season, for example — without having to apply for planning permission. This type of development could easily be brought within the terms of essential development, particularly where it means so much in the area of tourism, as this one undoubtedly did. I am sure that this is not an isolated example. "The Government will consider any action which they might take to promote an increase in Irish participation in all niches of the coach tourism market". This is important. Indeed, in my own area the Boyne Valley tours are very important. I must compliment CIE on those tours. Some of them were extended to Kells over the last year and they have been very successful. It is an important area which could and should be developed. I am very grateful to Bord Fáilte for the help given me when I made representation at different times to have this Boyne Valley tour extended.

Tourism amenities and facilities are very important and they are dealt with in a separate chapter, which is one of the most extensive in the report. The report speaks of the attraction of activity holidays centered around angling, sailing, golf, equestrian or adventure sports. I have already gone into those, particularly angling and fishing. We have an area in County Meath renowned for its coarse fishing, particularly around Ballyhoe, that beautiful scenic area with all the lakes. I remember in my youth reading the ballads and poems written into the local paper and I recall one about Ballyhoe "...where perch and troutlet smoothly glide among the reeds of Ballyhoe". I am sure there are many people who feel as strongly as I do about this. It is a very important area for fishing and angling. These are all areas where considerable progress could be made without any great outlay. Indeed, voluntary groups could be organised to help in extending these facilities and making them available to tourists — with the exception, of course, of the sports which it is not possible to hold outdoors. Other Members have felt that greater grants should be available for the provision of indoor facilities. The White Paper tells us that grants have been provided to develop the necessary facilities and Bord Fáilte have marketed activity holidays successfully abroad. This is very important.

Food is again dealt with. We are told that:

The cuisine of a country is a very important part of its overall image. Foreign tourists are likely to acquire new tastes while on holiday in Ireland and take them back home within them.

I am not sure whether it is intended that they bring them back home "with them" but I suppose "within them" would be correct too. It then goes on to state, with regard to the White Paper on Industrial Policy:

Moreover the Government in the National PlanBuilding on Reality have indicated their intention to introduce legislation to enable restaurants to provide a full range of alcoholic drinks which is a normal facility in restaurants abroad. The preparation of this legislation is going ahead.

I referred to licensing laws and alcoholic drink in my last contribution. I would like to refer later on, though not in any great detail, to some of the points that I did not make on the last occasion. As far as I can see this is the only place in the White Paper where there is a reference to where alcoholic drinks are supplied. With regard to this legislation I understand that the vintners have no objection to extending this facility to restaurants. By and large I do not think there is any great objection. At the same time, it seems to me that for people who want to get drink, the opportunities are there. I am not too sure whether that would help as regards tourism.

I have met tourists looking for information about their destination and other things. Indeed, many of them come to me for information they cannot get locally because there is no tourist office. I have never met a tourist who was looking for some place to get a drink after hours. Perhaps it would be proper to make intoxicating drink available in restaurants but I understood that some years ago when this question arose — I stand to be corrected if I am wrong — the publicans were not very enthusiastic about it. They were given an opportunity to provide meals in public houses which would more or less meet the problem of getting meals and drink in the one premises. This has been achieved to a large extent all over the country. People go into public houses for meals. Nobody to my knowledge has objected to this and I am not objecting. I am not against drink in any way. I enjoy a drink and always did but I believe that making it more readily available will have no great advantages. I can certainly see big disadvantages.

The report deals with national and forest parks. I compliment all those involved in this area. I have visited many of the forest parks. We have a beautiful forest park in Doonaree outside Kings-court to which people go Sunday after Sunday. I have been to the Lough Key forest park near Boyle many times and I enjoyed it. One of the most beautiful of all I believe is Curraghchase. I have also been there on a caravan holiday and I enjoyed it. I am aware of all the advantages that we have in the area of forest parks. The report tells us that the development of national parks by the Office of Public Works and forest parks by the Department of Fisheries and Forestry has made a valuable contribution towards improving and preserving our environment. Of course it has. Apart from tourists the people who live here enjoy these amenities.

It should be possible to develop them further. In some of them facilities should be provided, for example, at Curraghchase. Not all of them have that really beautiful setting and such a long drive from the public roadway. Caravan parking could be provided and, indeed, some of the smaller forests could be opened up to the public. I know an attempt has been made in this direction by the Government, and I commend it. Very recently all Members of the House were invited to one of these open days. It should be possible for school groups to visit the forest parks on these open days. For that reason I suggest the schools should be closed to enable pupils and teachers to attend.

Historic monuments and houses are another aspect dealt with in the report. This aspect is very important. It is gone into in considerable detail. It states here that:

Bord Fáilte have helped in the provision of visitor facilities at historic monuments maintained by OPW. There have, however, been legal restrictions on the extent of the work which OPW may do in presenting national monuments to the public. The Government have decided that the existing restrictions on OPW will be removed in 1985 by the introduction of the National Monuments Bill.

Time is running out in 1985. I hope this will be brought in early in the New Year.

We are told what provisions will be included in this Bill. I agree with all of them. The first one is very important: the control of use of metal detectors. I should like to emphasise the importance of this provision. A great deal of damage has been done in my own area to important sites by people using metal detectors. I thought it was illegal to use them but I am not an authority in that area. I know that irreversible damage has been done. It is most important to curb these activities with this restriction. As we know, when some of those sites are being excavated, the work is carried out meticulously with very small implements and no damage is done. Unfortunately with the use of metal detectors, areas are dug up on historic sites. Information which should be there for those who carry out the excavation properly is lost forever.

Another area which will be included is the protection of our underwater cultural heritage. That will be interesting. It is not developed any further and I am not sure exactly what it refers to. It says the Bill will also:

substitute an Historic Monuments Council for the National Monuments Advisory Council provided for in existing legislation. Bord Fáilte will be represented on this new Council.

I believe the Historic Monuments Council do a good job. I cannot see what advantage there will be in a substitution but I know that many of our historic monuments are in danger. In my own town of Kells we have the market cross, which is renowned the world over and it is in danger from a number of aspects. First of all there is the traffic. It is in a very exposed area and it has been damaged twice. Miraculously it was not damaged to any great extent. There is also the damage from pollution and frost. It has fissures and cracks and further damage is caused during the frosty weather. There is damage from improper use. In its own way this monument is as important as the Book of Kells. Attempts were made to have this cross moved to a safe location. Because of a certain amount of emotion it has not been possible to have the cross removed and yet there is no question in my mind that destruction of the cross is inevitable. It is an ancient and wonderful monument.

In some areas of the country monuments have been moved indoors. This is a matter which has been more or less left in abeyance. There are people who for emotional reasons would not want to see the cross or any old monument moved. The cross and the town would never be the same again. In any situation where there is an ancient monument if it is moved that area will never be the same again. There should be a body in control to examine these situations objectively, who would look at a monument such as the Market Cross and who would decide the degree of danger and who would be in a position to come to a decision that it should be moved or it should be retained or it should be covered. Something should be done. At present we do not have a body with that power although there are many people concerned about it and concerned about this area.

It is also intended, under the Bill, to establish a register of historic monuments and require prior notice to be given of any works proposed on monuments entered in the register. We must at present have a fairly comprehensive register of ancient monuments and it should be possible to complete a comprehensive register without too much difficulty. I know, on the other hand, that with the carrying out of works and improvements by farmers many of our valuable monuments such as ring forts and other mounds of different types have been lost. In this age when a bulldozer can move one of those forts or other important mound monuments in a matter of hours, it is critical that we have some means of preventing that occurrence. Excavations have taken place on some of our national monuments. In Knowth and Dowth in County Meath materials have been used for road works. If that happened nowadays the whole mound would be moved in a very short space of time. We would be in a situation that could not be reversed.

It is also intended to strengthen the commissioners' power to acquire and protect monuments. There is some restriction which it is not possible to overcome at present with regard to acquiring monuments which are under the control of local authorities. We have this problem in Kells and for the reasons that I have mentioned I look forward to the Bill.

Cultural matters are dealt with in two short paragraphs although this is a very important area. With regard to major cultural institutions and agencies four are mentioned: The National Museum, the National Gallery, The Chester Beatty Library and The National Concert Hall. In this context I feel I should welcome the Chester Beatty Library Bill which will come before us in the Seanad because it is mentioned here. I believe up to 10,000 people every year call to this cultural centre to examine that wonderful collection of books and artefacts. I look forward to the introduction of that Bill and also it is appropriate that in a cultural area like this the Bill should be introduced in the Seanad.

Accommodation is dealt with in Chapter 12. We are told that market research has shown that tourists using hotels are seeking a higher standard of accommodation. This is understandable and when we are in competition in this area the standard of accommodation is crucial. Like Senator Lynch I welcome the grants that have been made by the Government in this area for the improvement of hotels. Senator Lynch has gone into that in great detail and I do not propose to repeat that. For too long hotels have been starved of grants. These new grants are most welcome.

The White Paper refers to the siting and format of directional signposts and notices. This is something that is strictly controlled at the moment. I would like to see some leeway for people who are involved in the area of tourism because signposting for them is essential.

I am glad the report refers to the disabled. It states:

It is obviously desirable that all forms of accommodation would have facilities for use by the disabled. The Government would urge tourism operators to pay particular attention to this aspect of their activities. Bord Fáilte have already produced a brochure for the benefit of disabled persons showing the accommodation which caters for their special needs.

In all areas it is important to cater for the disabled, particularly in hotels, guest-houses and places where congregations meet such as churches. In most of them I would imagine that facilities are provided for the disabled — certainly in the larger churches. It seems to me that in this day and age provision for the disabled should be made in all places which are used by the public. The extra work and the extra expense involved in ensuring that facilities for the disabled are provided are not great. It simply means that doors are wide enough for wheelchairs, ramps are provided and that doors open in certain directions to make it easier for the disabled person, in a wheelchair and otherwise, to use these facilities. The extra costs in making these provisions, even in private houses, are so little that a standard which would facilitate the disabled should be mandatory.

We have a very short chapter on investment in tourism. It states here:

all such schemes...

—that is all schemes providing grants—

are being reviewed by the Department of Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism, on a regular basis to ensure that value is being obtained for taxpayer's money.

If is very important to get the best value for money. I am sure this is an ongoing thing in every area of Government. This is so important with regard to tourism, where we have changing trends, where we have competitiveness and where all of these things are critical. An ongoing review is very important.

Chapter 14 deals with seasonality. This is one area one which we do not have control. We have to improvise and we have to try to deal with this problem. Obviously, we cannot compete directly with countries which have longer, hotter seasons. We have a high tourist season, which is about two months of the year. Then, the White Paper tells us, we have the shoulder period, which is two months before and two months after the high peak period. The White Paper states:

The possibility of substantially increasing revenue from tourism activities therefore clearly lies in the development of business during the shoulder season.

It is critical that this should be done. Obviously, we should not be restricted to a very short two-month period. For the remainder of the time, particularly the period when the weather can be as good as in the peak period, a special effort should be made to improve the tourist potential. The Government are firmly of the view that the most realistic approach would be to concentrate the limited resources available for tourism promotion on efforts to build up this season — the shoulder season — while at the same time extending the peak season from two months to a three month or longer period. Extending the peak season depends largely on the weather; but if it can be increased from two months to three months, so much the better. We would all agree that the least of our problems is getting the tourists during the peak period. Therefore, it is logical that the shoulder periods should be developed. I suppose, by and large, during the peak period most of our hotels would be filled to capacity, so there is very little improvement to be made in regard to the peak period. Certainly, many hotel rooms would be left unoccuped during the shoulder periods, so whatever can be done to help out during this time would be most important.

Regarding promotion and marketing, the report refers to Bord Fáilte's annual reports. We get those in this House and we get an opportunity to discuss them. That is important, more particularly now with this White Paper, which is the first White Paper on Tourism. Giant strides can be taken and great improvements can be made. These annual reports will be very important. They have always been important but since we are trying to catch up, from a very low base, on the potential in tourism in the future.

The primary objective in many of our market reports is to increase and diffuse information about Ireland. Bord Fáilte have been very successful in this regard and, from my personal point of view, Bord Fáilte have been very helpful with regard to information and suggestions. I have always found them most helpful. I believe their efforts in this regard, while costly, have been very successful.

Senator Lynch has gone into the area of access transport in great detail. I will not go over the ground he covered very comprehensively. At the end it says:

More specifically the Minister for Communications will authorise, subject to minimum technical and other clearances, the development of "feeder" air services from Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports to Ireland's regional airports.

I am not from Knock and I have no vested interest in Knock Airport, but I feel I should refer to the success of Knock Airport and the success of Monsignor Horan. This is something that could and should be looked at.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

It is now 12.30 p.m. I understand that, on the Order of Business this morning, we decided to break at that time.

We will suspend business until 2 p.m. On a point of clarification, could Senator Fitzsimons give the House any idea how long more he intends to take? There are several people who want to make contributions on the motion. I have to arrange a Minister for the next motion. We do not want to curtail anybody's contribution; but, if somebody is going to speak for four hours, we should know it so that other Senators will have an opportunity to arrange their day.

This is a very important matter. I am not too sure how long it will take me to complete my contribution but it would be unfortunate if we were restricted.

There is no restriction.

It is very difficult to say. There are many areas I would like to go into.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

It is all right, Senator Fitzsimons.

I will be as helpful as I can. I would hope that 30 minutes would be enough to finish my contribution.

Sitting suspended at 12.30 p.m. and resumed at 2 p.m.

With regard to Senator Ferris's query and his remarks before the adjournment I apologise if I have inconvenienced any Member of the House. It was not my intention. There is no restriction on the debate. It can go on as long as necessary. I have no special insight or special monopoly with regard to the remarks that I make.

Could I interrupt for a moment? There is no restriction on the length of time the Senator may wish to take.

I have given an undertaking to Senator Ferris that I will restrict my remaining contribution to 30 minutes and I intend to honour that.

Acting Chairman

That is a matter for yourself.

Senator Ferris has made arrangements with his side of the House in regard to the people who are contributing. I do not feel that I have any special insight but I do feel that this is a very important area seeing that it comes after industry and agriculture in respect of the national income. Both the White Paper and the report are excellent. The White Paper being the first White Paper in the history of the State on tourism, I would expect that all the Members of the House would want to contribute. There are many areas covered in the White Paper and the report with which I am involved. I have studied them thoroughly. It is in that light that I wanted to make my contribution. Again, I want to repeat that I apologise sincerely if I have inconvenienced any Member of the House.

In the concluding pages of the White Paper there are various suggestions made as to how to improve tourism. One of them is education studies which would involve Celtic or Irish studies. This is an area which would not impinge on the third level education systems or, indeed, the second level stage. We have made good strides with regard to schools of poetry and music. Perhaps more could be done in all those areas.

Twinning of cities has also been mentioned and this would include villages, counties, cities and other geographical areas. Apparently there are great prospects here. This is something that would be simple. It would mean some outward expenses, but apparently because of the relative wealth of the foreign exchangevis-a-vis our currency, the advantage would always be to Ireland.

Long holidays for retired people are mentioned as a consideration. This would not be as profitable as other areas of tourism. Nevertheless, in slack periods there are possibilities in this area. Painting lessons and arts and crafts courses could be covered. I have consistently made that point with regard to elderly people. I see no reason why people who are retired and who have qualified for a pension could not go on to third level education if they have the capacity and the inclination. In this area adult education has a very important part to play. As somebody who has been involved in this area I think there are great possibilities and potential. Most of our classes in the last year in adult education have not been filled. This is an area that would benefit the country and, specifically, tourism.

The White Paper invites all tourist interests and others to make suggestions. This is a pleasing aspect of the White Paper. I am sure there are many people who will make suggestions. Some incentive should be given to people to make these suggestions, by way of prizes or by way of credits, or by recognition in some way. In my experience it is the person that one would think least likely who can come up with ingenious suggestions.

We have serious problems with regard to environment. I find it difficult to understand how somebody who is brought up in a home where neatness and tidiness are considered essential, goes through school where again neatness and tidiness and consideration for others is taught, can go out and pollute the environment. That is what is happening. From my own experience in the FCA, I feel that in either the FCA or the Army there is strict discipline and there are great possibilities for training. I am not sure if I would go as far as to say that a period in the Army or the FCA should be mandatory, but I know from experience that this training makes people better citizens.

I conclude with the remaining section of the report on Tourism, Catering and Leisure. The concluding paragraph on page 24 is as follows:

There is no evidence of any Comprehensive National Policy for Tourism. Promotional funding is on anad hoc year to year basis. Decisions on investment are being made without any Cost Benefit analysis. Certain aspects of the Industry are focused on market segments which are yielding little return, i.e. Ireland has a location for “cheap skate” holidays. Interaction between State Agencies is at best ad hoc and informal. Some Government Departments at least have an interest in certain integral areas of the Industry.

I realise that this was written about six months before the White Paper was published and to some extent means that it is out of date. Nevertheless it is a severe indictment of the situation as it obtained then. The White Paper changes the condemnation of that paragraph.

Moving on to Amenities, Entertainment and Tourism, the report outlines a number of miscellaneous tourism products which require substantial localised development and promotion to reach their full potential in the tourism context. It tells us that non-profit making activities such as Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, which have a traditional cultural activity for tourists, and organisations like that, by organising seisiúin and other activities would have an important part to play in the area where there is a strong Irish tradition.

Senator Michael Lynch referred to An Tóstal which was organised in the early Fifties and which was very successful. Something like that could be organised again. In my young days in every parish in the county — and in the country — we had the annual aeríocht and on a county basis we had the feis. These are things of the past. I never hear of an aeríocht now. That was an occasion people looked forward to. From the point of view of tourism it would be very important. For the towns it was a major occasion. Something could be done in this regard. We seem to have lost the incentive of the pioneers at the early part of this century who promoted occasions like these and organised language and singing classes.

The report speaks about sporting events which take place but which are not promoted in the tourism sense, such as the GAA, horse racing, horse riding, golf, sailing and other water sports. Mention was made of the Tailteann games. Teltown is not far from Kells. The Tailteann games were world renowned. They could be revived. There is great potential in this area.

I would like to refer to the areas in County Meath, but obviously because of the time limit I cannot. In the guide by Dr. Peter Harbison, he made an interesting remark about Teltown. He said:

A large and long mound on the other side of the main road known as the Crockans is associated with "Teltown marriages" where young people joined hands through a hole in a wooden door, lived together for a year and a day after that, and could then part if they so wished.

I could say in a facetious frame of mind that that custom could be easily revived, but I am not suggesting that it should be.

With regard to historical houses, monuments and museums which are currently promoted in what the report says "a very diverse and localised fashion", the report referred to Newgrange neolithic tombs, Georgian buildings and other forms of eighteenth century architecture. It goes on to say that in the UK the restoration of old churches, houses, mill wheels and other industrial architecture has been a significant addition to the tourism infrastructure. These substantial buildings are important. I have made a plea on a number of occasions in this House for the humble, thatched cottage. There is great tourism potential in this area.

Senator Lynch quoted an extract regarding An Tóstal which stated that from Sliabh an Cailligh which is at Patrickstown Hill there was a view of County Cavan, and he referred to the thatched whitewashed cottages. Senator O'Brien is here with us from Cavan and he is more knowledgeable about that area than I am, but I feel that the number of thatched houses in county Cavan now could not be more than a couple of dozen. This has happened in a comparatively short space of time. This part of our heritage is being lost. The thatched cottage belongs to the past. It cannot be rebuilt. We may build replicas. In Bunratty Castle there is a folk park which is well worth a visit by anyone who is interested. We have those buildings as they existed, but thatched cottages and the thatched houses I am talking about are those where people are living and carrying on a tradition. They use the churn, the hearth and various other aspects which belonged to the thatched cottage. It is important that we should have a system as they have in the North where by the more important of the thatched houses would be listed. There are about 100 listed in the North. These thatched houses should be listed and preserved. Appropriate grants should be given to them for thatching and maintenance because at present to have a house rethatched would cost in the region of £2,000.

I have been told in this House that there is provision in the grant system to cover thatched houses but, in practice, this is not so. The main thrust of housing grants is to get rid of the thatched houses. It may be said that people living in thatched houses are living in out-of-date conditions and that the houses should be bulldozed and the people should be given proper houses. I do not subscribe to that. A special type of person lives in those thatched houses and everything should be done to preserve their homes.

In the penal days people worshipped in humble, thatched buildings. Some effort should be made to restore some of those old thatched churches. In County Meath these are well-documented by Dean Cogan, Father Brady and many others who wrote about the history of Meath. They were very humble buildings — most of them mud-walled, some of them stone-built. The remains of those walls are still standing in many old graveyards but, unfortunately, interments have taken place within the walls of the church and it is not easy to restore them. It might be very difficult to restore them as they were originally as I have never seen an illustration of any of those old thatched churches. There must be some painting somewhere which would give us an indication of how they were finished externally. If we had some of those restored in different parts of the country, they would be a great attraction. They evolved in a very disturbed period of our history. Something should be done to restore a number of them throughout the country.

In the rural areas there were mills at small streams and it is a pity that they are gone. On the main Navan-Kells road we have a well known mill, Tallons' mill at Martry. It was restored by the Office of Public Works when they were completing the drainage scheme there. Many people pass by without recognising the mill. It would be an advantage to have it signposted. The mill was well worth restoring.

The blacksmith was a very important person in my area. The blacksmith's forge was a centre of activity. Some of the old forges still remain. I believe they should be restored with the anvil and the bellows. Some of the forges had quaint and decorative signs over their doors. They should be restored. The carpenter was also a very important man in the locality. We have customs that are dying fast. It should be possible to restore those customs in some areas of the country. These customs include reaping with the hook and scythe. I am not talking of going backwards, but in specific areas picking out farms which might agree to use those methods in order to attract the tourist. I think that would be worthwhile.

There is great potential in restoring canals. What has been done in that regard since the Canals Bill was passed? Has any restoration work been done? There is part of a canal in Meath which is important for fishing. This is an area which could be exploited. The Boyne Valley scenic area is very well signposted. It is ironic that it is signposted when considerable work has been done on the Boyne drainage scheme. The rivers and streams resemble canals, whereas some years ago they were very scenic. The Office of Public Works did as good a job as could be expected. I compliment them. Others have been very critical of them. They had a difficult job to do and they did it reasonably well. There is room for improvement and I am sure this will take place.

With regard to place names, I would like to see the Irish names retained, including family names on shops, rather than using fancy names.

I would like to go into the question of the licensing laws but it would take me too long. I realise that this is not an occasion where it would be considered proper to take a stand in this regard. Senator Michael Howard and Senator Michael Lynch referred to the licensing laws. Both of these Senators are involved in the licensed trade. I believe they made very reasonable submissions with regard to the licensing laws. Nobody could take exception to what they said. They were very fair. It is wrong to consider the sale of intoxicating liquor solely in relation to the benefits to tourism. The social effects of changes in the licensing laws must be taken into consideration. We have a major problem with regard to the use of alcohol. I am not against alcohol; I enjoy a drink. The majority of people in Ireland who go out for a drink behave themselves. I would not complain in that respect. We are talking about a sizeable proportion of the population whose lives have been ruined through the abuse of alcohol. We recently had before us the report of the Joint Committee on Marriage Breakdown. I felt that the committee did not consider the question of alcohol in the serious way that it should be dealt with. It is a very serious problem. I see all the problems around me and hear of all the problems with regard to discos and young people. I would say that it is wrong to do anything to bring about any change that would result in an increase in the consumption of alcohol without taking into consideration the bad effects — and the increasingly bad effects — we have in Ireland.

I would like to welcome the White Paper and the opportunity it gives to the Houses of the Oireachtas to discuss tourism, to suggest ways of further developing tourism amenities and of increasing the revenue accruing from it. It is widely recognised that tourism is probably the most rapidly expanding industry in the world at present. It is of vital importance that we have the best approach to attract the maximum number of tourists.

The White Paper on Tourism recognises the importance of our angling facilities and their potential to attract tourists. I come from the Lakelands area where the main attraction for tourists is angling. There is great potential for development here.The Irish Independent of 5 December 1985 states that there was a rise of 35 per cent in the income from foreign tourists this year, and it is expected that next year will show a further increase of 9 per cent. That would increase the revenue from foreign tourists to £537 million. An industry that creates an income of that kind is well worth our deepest consideration.

I indicated that I intend to deal mainly with angling. Angling is a particularly suitable tourist attraction in Ireland. First, it is not dependent on sunshine. Even the wretched conditions of this summer did not affect tourism in the angling area. Angling is an all-year-round sport, when different species of fish are taken into account. For example, the English angler will fish for bream, roach and so on from April to October, while continental anglers fish for pike from September to April. This creates an all-year-round season. I would like to emphasise the attractions of angling in the Lakelands area. These attractions are available to tourists throughout the year and not just in the busy tourist season from June until September. More should be done to develop the Lakelands region because of the steady flow of income.

Another reason why this area is particularly suitable is that it has virtually no competition from any other country in Europe. That is a point we do not bear in mind often enough. The angling facilities offered have no worthwhile competition from any other part of Europe. Regarding the Lakeland district, the coarse fishing facilities enjoyed there having nothing to equal them in Europe. We do not develop that point enough especially in our advertising campaigns in Britain and on the Continent. Angling brings tourism revenue into rural areas which would get little or no tourist revenue from any other type of tourism.

The potential market is a huge one. It is estimated that there is a market of over 3 million in Britain and a further 4 million in France, Germany and Belgium. That is a total of 7 million in countries that are not so far away. With the attractions we have to offer and with the market potential that is there, there is every reason for people to be hopeful that tourism can develop by leaps and bounds, provided the proper marketing is carried out. Those who have experience of this are not happy that the marketing of angling is carried out in a highly efficient way.

The maintenance and improvement of the resources require a relatively low level of direct State involvement. But State input is required for the improvement of sewage disposal works and other measures necessary for the protection of the environment.

In order to improve our promotional work we require at least the reinstatement of cuts made in the financing of the Central Fisheries Board over the past two or three years. These budget cuts were made in such a way that they were very wasteful of resources in that the cuts were applied to the non-pay aspects of the board's promotional efforts. They have been severely restricted in their travel allowances. This means that officers on full pay are restricted in the work they can do because of the cutbacks in travel allowances. To illustrate that point more clearly, I have been told by people living in Cavan, who have spent a lifetime doing this sort of work, that a man there who does immense work to develop fishing in that area could, if he were given an adequate travel allowance, guarantee that every guesthouse in the Lakeland area would be fully occupied for the whole of the year 1986. The man to whom I refer is operating on budget of £1,500 a year. That amount was eaten up this year in the work he did to have a television programme put out on BBC 2. There were six films of a half hour duration, filmed entirely in Ireland and transmitted by the BBC. It is expected to result in a huge increase of anglers from Britain to this country next year. I want to emphasise that cutting back on the travelling expenses of a couple of those representatives, who have to cover the whole country from Donegal to Cork, effectively cuts out the work that they could be doing on a big scale. It is false economy in that regard.

The promotion and sale of Irish angling abroad can be significantly improved in the short term and dramatically improved in the long term by a fresh approach on the part of both Bord Fáilte and the Central Fisheries Board. As matters stand, both bodies have a statutory responsibility to promote angling tourism. Their responsibilities overlap. Bord Fáilte have the overseas organisation and the knowledge of the accommodation scene at home while the Central Fisheries Board have the knowledge and expertise to put the visiting angler over the fish, as they say. This is important for customer satisfaction and, consequently, repeat visits. The special requirements of selling Irish angling overseas can only be understood by someone who knows the subject intimately. Up to now Bord Fáilte have used the services of the Central Fisheries Board angling officers to lecture to angling clubs in Britain. This has worked very well, but it was done on a hit-and-miss basis, depending to some extent on whether funds were available or not. To be done properly these angling officers, people like Hugh Gough whom I mentioned earlier, should be in Britain and on the Continent for at least a month every winter talking to anglers through the audio, visual and print media in advance of the various regional officers of Bord Fáilte.

Angling is a very specialised subject or pastime. Expert anglers have a vast knowledge of angling. When they are being spoken to by somebody who is selling angling, it is absolutely essential that the salesman be an expert on the subject. People who have grown up on the river bank and have acquired a knowledge over long years of interest in the subject and practise of it, develop a knowledge that will appeal to the type of angler in Britain and further afield who may be thinking of coming to Ireland. It takes people with expertise and profound knowledge to convince the would-be tourist that Ireland is the place to visit. Bord Fáilte representatives whose sole function is to sell hotel bedroom space, who have only a cursory knowledge of angling, a very uncertain knowledge of where the great angling places are, what kind of fish can be caught and the most suitable time for fishing, do not have the expertise of members of the Central Fisheries Board. Every person of experience in this field that I spoke to in the Lakeland region, is definitely of the opinion that it is not enough to send Bord Fáilte people abroad to sell angling holidays. We must send people with a knowledge and a great understanding of angling. I am repeating that view now in the hope that it will be acted upon immediately.

One of the problems with the system up to now, I have been told, is that we lack a viable angling press which could disseminate information about our fisheries. Most of our angling customers gain their first knowledge of Irish angling through the several British weekly angling newspapers and a number of monthly magazines. Something should be done to remedy that disadvantage that we suffer from.

Bord Fáilte, and the Central Fisheries Board, at a high administrative level must agree to co-operate in the better promotion and sale of Irish angling. That point is being driven home by the people I have talked to. There must be great liasion between those organisations, and when it comes to selling our angling facilities the fisheries representatives board are the people to do it. It is suggested that a standing committee of higher level executives from those bodies must be established to ensure that specific promotions are planned up to a year in advance.

People in the Trout Anglers Federation of Ireland made submissions to Bord Fáilte, the latest being on 1 November 1984. They made a long list of recommendations and I will deal with what I consider to be the more important ones. They recommend strongly that a survey should be undertaken to establish the economic value of our trout fisheries and are satisfied that our lake fisheries offer better and more interesting angling than is available in the reservoirs in the United Kingdom. Our river line fisheries have vast potential but they also have many problems — for example pollution, access, bank conditions and so on. With regard to access, I know that in some of the best fishing areas in Monaghan, Cavan and Leitrim the only access to the lake or to the river bank is across farmers' fields, with no roadway of any kind, or, indeed, an authorised pathway. Visitors depend entirely on the goodwill of the land owner to let them travel the fishing ground. In other areas where there is a laneway or boreen of a kind, very often it is badly maintained. Some long laneways are a mile or more in length and are so narrow that if two motorists meet, one of them has to reverse a quarter of a mile or more to let the other pass. The simple job of providing lay-bys, which is not a costly business at all, would make conditions much more favourable. One can imagine the frustration of an angler from England visiting Cavan, Monaghan, Leitrim, Roscommon or, perhaps, Westmeath who because of a lack of sign posts has great difficulty in finding a lake or river. After much inquiring and searching he may find that the road is so narrow that if he meets a school bus or a creamery tanker he has to reverse perhaps a quarter of a mile or more. A lay-by is easily constructed and is not at all expensive. They should be provided along the side of laneways at regular intervals. The absence of them causes great deal of frustration and annoyance to visitors in areas where angling is popular.

It was also suggested by the Trout Anglers Federation of Ireland in their submission that a proportion of European Community aid to Irish tourism projects should go directly to the improvement of fish stocks. This could be done through angling clubs willing to undertake improvement schemes. The federation will be willing to help with such projects.

Signposting of angling waters needs improvement and more helpful information should be given. I have already indicated the difficulties that confront anglers from abroad and, indeed, those from our own country, when they are searching for popular fishing spots because of inadequate signposting. I am happy to say that in the last three weeks or so I had a letter from Harry Lynch, a fisheries official in the Mullingar office, in which he informed me that a very intensive signposting programme will get underway in the Lakeland area next year. It will be very welcome and will to an immense amount of good. It will help to create customer satisfaction, which is what the whole thing is about.

The trout federation in their submission to Bord Fáilte also stated that to market effectively trout fishing a number of steps must be taken. A constantly updated pool of accurate information must be established. This should cover all questions that overseas anglers will wish to ask before making a commitment to spend their money. Great damage has been done in the past through encouraging visitors to go to the wrong place at the wrong time and through the dissemination of too generalised promotional literature. The English angler who comes here is an expert at angling and he wants expert advise. He is very quick to see a poor service and once he sees that the service is poor and that he is not directed properly to the best place, he is slow to return. Every angler who gets satisfaction, has good fishing and is pleased with the courtesy of the people, especially the women who run guesthouses, when he returns home is the best sort of advertising agent we could possibly have. He will tell his friends at home what a wonderful place Ireland is for anglers. If he goes back dissatisfied the reverse takes place. He could very well advise them to forget all about holidaying in Ireland.

It is helpful in this regard, the trout federation say, to try putting ourselves in the customer's shoes. Before committing ourselves to angling holidays overseas we would want reliable information on the best place to go at a particular time, all the personal information relating to that location, accommodation, prices, angling, support services, maps and advice on methods and any special regulations pertaining. The Central Fishery Board should be required to provide this type of information or at least that part of it that relates specifically to the quality of angling available at particular times of the year. The Central Fisheries Board have already done a considerable amount of work in this field. Regrettably, due to lack of understanding at Government level — this is what the trout federation people say — of the benefits to be reaped from inland angling severe cutbacks have seriously retarded the compilation of hard angling facts which are essential for the efficient marketing of the resource.

The federation would strongly support any institutional changes which can be made to improve the utilisation of our angling resources. This is how they drive the point home: Bord Fáilte have the specific information required on accommodation, transport and the overseas sales structure necessary and the Central Fisheries Board have the means and the expertise to provide the accurate angling information already referred to. Both bodies should establish a high inter-board committee to co-ordinate their efforts. That point keeps recurring about the need for co-ordination of effort between Bord Fáilte and the Central Fisheries Board.

Before dealing with promotion it would be advisable to have some idea of the state and extent of Irish angling. On salmon and sea trout, the information I have gleaned from these people is that good salmon fishing has always been at a premium and the demand far outstrips the supply. A few fisheries which held good stocks of salmon and which are well protected can sell themselves. However, the overall position is that angling fisheries have declining stocks of fish in recent years and have been badly affected by netting at sea and poaching generally. In that regard it is good to know that the Minister for Fisheries, Deputy O'Toole, is taking steps to get rid of this menace of poaching.

On brown trout the submission states that Ireland still possesses exceptionally fine stocks of wild native trout in our rivers and lakes. It is without doubt the best natural trout fishing left in Europe and some of it ranks with the best in the world. Such fishing is at a premium everywhere, yet our major trout lakes, such as Lough Corrib, Lough Masc and Lough Conn are under-utilised. This could be ascribed to the large amount of high quality fishing available, the comparatively small Irish angling population and the fact that promotion of angling abroad has been largely concentrated on coarse fishing and sea angling. This under-utilisation is very apparent on our lake fisheries, but is not so obvious on our rivers. While rivers, because of their nature, cannot cater for the same number of anglers as large lakes at present, we have little idea of the true extent of river angling and what spare capacity may be available.

Coarse fishing applies mostly to the Lakeland region where I live. The advice I get with regard to that is that Ireland has an enormous amount of good quality coarse fishing available especially in the River Shannon and the River Erne catchments. It is the least used fishing by Irish anglers. Coarse fishermen comprise a very small percentage of the total Irish angling population and yet it is our biggest single tourist angling money earner. It is the most easily developed and exploited form of angling and has tremendous potential for further expansion. I got other notes from people whose main interest lies in the development of coarse fishing in our area. I am told that people in the Cavan-Monaghan-Leitrim Erne system area can fully appreciate the great economic and social significance of angling tourism because tourism has brought a lot of money into that area. Everyone will agree that it is an area that is in need of development under many headings. When it has facilities for coarse fishing, that are not rivalled in any part of Europe there is no sensible reason why it should not be developed to the maximum.

A man who has great experience of this put on a check at my request and reported: "I have just checked on three guesthouses in this first week of December and there are 27 continental anglers pike-fishing at the moment". In 1983 a survey showed that in County Cavan there were 7,000 angling visitors over May and June generating £2 million. In Lakeland, angling, that is coarse angling, is the dominant tourist attraction. There are three factors through which these people view angling tourism, the natural resources, development of these resources and promotion of them.

The Erne system is blessed with an abundance of good fish stocks in a variety of waters to satisfy both English and continental anglers. I already mentioned it being an all-year-round attraction. The waters are developed after technical and other surveys are carried out by the Central Fisheries Board. These include the making of access, stiles, footbridges and so on around the reeded waters. Then they follow the work of the other agencies, Bord Fáilte and the county councils with car parks and signs, but not enough development has been done under this heading in late years. It is freely admitted that some very good work has been done but the pace is generally regarded as too slow.

With the water developed there follows the important promotion work which is the most essential ingredient in the success of angling as a tourist attraction, but there is a big bottleneck. Our coarse fishing waters are not being fully utilised. When State money is put into the development of waters, and guesthouses are geared also with the assistance of State grants, it is absolutely vital that we get value for money by having our waters utilised fully. Angling is a highly specialised sport and it is essential that those selling it as a tourist attraction should beau fait with all aspects of it. At the moment Bord Fáilte promote our fishing. Over the years people in the fisheries have done some promotion but it is those with expert knowledge on our fisheries that should be selling our angling facilities to people abroad. That point is being hammered home by the federation all the time. If we want to sell angling in Britain, France, Belgium or Holland we must at some particular time every year send a person who knows exactly what he is talking about when it comes to angling. I give the kind of advice to these people that they expect.

In relation to sea angling, we possess the best all round general boat and shore fishing in Europe for a wide variety of species. There is a rapidly expanding growth of Irish sea anglers, particularly shore fishermen, and growing pressure on fish stocks from commercial fishing. It is a very important tourist angling money earner. Boat angling demand is tending to decline while the demand for shore angling grows apace. There is still much potential for exploitation.

Apart from salmon fishing, all forms of angling in Ireland have spare capacity which could and should be used for the benefit of the country. The availability of salmon angling could be increased by better management of the stocks and their exploitation designed to permit increased escapement of fish into fresh water and, as I mentioned already, to curb the poaching activities that go on. In order to draw up a rational marketing promotional plan on a national scale we must have more factual information on what we have to sell, especially in those waters and areas which have not been investigated by the board. This will involve surveys to establish the full extent of angling resources available within each region and, in consultation with the regional boards, to decide which fisheries and types of fishing should have priority within the regions. The information required would cover angling quality, fish stocks, ownership, availability, access facilities, boats, local contacts and organisations, etc. Close liaison and co-operation is necessary between the regional fisheries board and Bord Fáilte regional tourism boards, caterers, etc. to maximise and co-ordinate the promotional effort. This is particularly necessary in areas requiring special attention.

Other recommendations being made by these people to Bord Fáilte and to the Government include the presentation of angling information with a view to achieving optimum usage of our fisheries and making the regional fisheries board the focal point to which anglers will turn when seeking angling information within a region. For this purpose it would be necessary to produce coloured maps of the fisheries in each regional board for display purposes, to produce angling handout maps of fisheries areas and specific locations of particular fisheries, to assemble and supply information and photographs for brochures, to advise and co-operate with the research planning and production of angling films and videos of a promotional and educational nature on a national and regional basis, to plan photographic requirements and procedure photographs for journalists and for audio visual purposes on a national and regional basis, to compile guides to angling in Ireland for coarse, game and sea fishing, also handbooks covering the fishing in this region. Ideally such handbooks should be annuals. We should publish articles in Ireland on various aspects of Irish angling.

These are some of the recommendations made. I will go back to the one of signposting, which I dealt with already. Signposting of fisheries is of vital importance. At local level this gets the angler to the waters. Signposts must be well designed and of good quality as well as being in the right place. They should look well and reflect credit on the regional fisheries board as well as helping to create the image that the board are the authority in all matters appertaining to angling. They should be linked to regional fisheries display maps erected in strategic places throughout the region and also to angling hand-out maps. Signposts throughout the country should be of a uniform type and design and, while identifying the particular regional fishery board and region in which is it erected, it should carry the board's crest so that, no matter where the angler is, the sign becomes synonymous in his mind with the fishing authority and he can have confidence in it.

I want to say in all fairness that some very good work is being done in the parts of the country that I am dealing with most. I want to draw particular attention to what was done under the European Regional Development Fund. Under the European Regional Development Fund a special Border areas programme was established in 1981. The programme, due to run for five years from 1981 to 1985, was aimed at improving the economic and social situation of the Border counties. The Department of Finance, have overall responsibility for the administration of the Border programme, Bord Fáilte administer the funds for tourism-related projects under the programme for moneys made available by the Department of Finance through a special suspense account in this Department. In the period 1981 to 1984 grant assistance paid by Bord Fáilte under the programme amounted to £3.8 million. The allocation for 1985, which is the final year of the programme, was £900,000. This has been fully committed by Bord Fáilte to tourism projects in the five Border counties. In fact, the allocation was not sufficient to satisfy fully the demand and Bord Fáilte have had to turn down a number of grant applications due to lack of resources.

We would hope, in that part of the world, that the European authorities could be prevailed on to continue this subvention for another period of four to five years because in so doing they will help to bring the facilities in that very important area up to the standard of visiting anglers' requirements. I will not hold up the House by referring to all the work done under this European assistance programme but I would like to express appreciation for work done at Belturbet, Mount Nugent, Lough Gowna, Killeshandra, Ballybay, Shercock and Carrick-macross. Furthermore, the assistance is very greatly appreciated in that part of the world. It is generally realised that without this assistance we would be very far short of supplying the standards that visiting anglers would expect.

I do not want to over-emphasise it, but I would like to show appreciation of the work done by RTE and BBC, mainly on the instigation of Hugh Gough in Cavan. They showed six half hour films all filmed in this country and drawing attention of BBC audiences to the tremendous facilities available to the angler in this country. It should result in a great increase in the number of visitors to our shores next year and in the years immediately ahead.

Sometimes it is very good to know what outsiders think of how we are doing. It is great to know customer reaction. For that reason I intend to read a few short quotations fromTrout Fisherman, which is an English publication. In the August edition of 1983 the editorial says:

And who was it told us that Irish fishing was dying a death? This past season ended on Sheelin with the brown trout averaging 3 lb and lots of them.

—That is more like the truth—

Interesting; Sheelin anglers have been experiencing difficulties with a plague of little perch which have become a major food source but willingly confess the lack of constant success with lures.

There is an invitation to avid lure-men if ever I heard one. He finishes his editorial:

At least I know where I'm going for a holiday next year. There's a little river called the Erriff stuffed with salmon, then there is all those sea trout loughs in Connemara and south Mayo, dry fly river fishing for big browns which rarely see an artificial fly, and then there is Lough Sheelin.

In December 1983 he said in the editorial again inTrout Fisherman:

Our series on Irish fisheries is more than just another look at some of those great Irish loughs. It reflects our certainty that anglers both here and in Ireland are only just beginning to scratch the surface of Irish trout fishing and reveal its true potential.

Many anglers would be surprised at the welcome they'd find in the truly named Emerald Isle. Even at the height of the season there can be room in the hotels and boats available for the angler. Time and again you'll hear how the English man is welcomed to Ireland. We still follow the unwritten codes, putting back most of our fish and expect to pay a fair whack for boats and boatmen.

He goes on:

Even bad Irish fishing will produce results vastly superior to a poor day in England.

Most of the fish in Irish loughs never see a fly from one year to the next, while the waters mostly remain untarnished by stocked fish. Only in Ireland and Scotland can we find the type of unspoilt natural fishing our forefathers enjoyed. And we can tackle it with the full range of modern knowledge and techniques denied to them.

He continues:

Why aren't we going? There is nothing to fear in the Republic, and it is not just the desperate need for foreign currency and tourism that draws such a wonderful welcome from our Irish cousins. There is a genuine inbred warmth that makes a welcome a celebration, while the English reply with a politeness that makes them the more welcome.... Ireland offers an escape to the natural, the unspoilt, and gently refreshing way of life.

Ignore the doom merchants, Irish fishing is not to be missed. Which is our totally unsolicited recommendation for this month. Go see for yourself.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an bPáipéar Bán ar Thurasóireacht. Is í seo an chéad uair a leagadh síos polasaí cinnte faoi thurasóireacht agus dá bhrí sin is maith ann é. Is cóir freisin go ndéanfaí an Páipéar Bán féin agus na moltaí atá ann a phlé go hiomlán. Tionscal an-tábhachtach is sea turasóireacht. Is féidir a rá gur tionscal é atá réamh-dhéanta. Is linn féin an tionscal mar a déarfá. Cuireann an turasóireacht obair ar fáil ar bhealach amháin nó ar bhealach eile do a lán daoine. Ina theannta sin an t-airgead a thagann isteach de bharr na turasóireachta fanann sé sa tír. Ní hionann é agus tionscail eile. Is léir mar sin go bhfuil tábhacht ar leith ag baint le tionscal na turasóireachta don tír seo. An locht is mó atá agam ar an bPáipéar Bán seo nach ngealltar aon airgead sa bhreis gur fiú trácht air é le tacú mar is cóir leis an tionscal sa gcaoi go dtiocfadh forbairt agus méadú mar ba chóir ar an turasóireacht. Is trua liom é sin ach is breá liom go bhfuil an tAire i láthair le linn na diospóireachta ar fad agus tá súil agam go mbainfidh sé tairbhe as an méid a chloisfidh sé agus go ndéanfaidh sé beart dá réir.

I should now like to make a few general comments on the White Paper on Tourism. I have already welcomed it and acknowledged that it is the first time that a definite policy on tourism has been brought before the Oireachtas. For this reason it deserves a welcome and, indeed, careful consideration. Chapter 7.1 summarises the attractions of Ireland as a tourism destination under four headings: (1) scenery and natural environment; (2) culture; (3) friendly people and (4) in the case of our two biggest markets, Britain and North America, the widespread use of the English language. It further states: "The policy measures to develop and protect these strengths are outlined in later Chapters", and indeed, they are. The categorisation of these four main attractions for tourists is valid and reasonable. One cannot disagree, for instance, with the primary importance of the environment in the tourism context. One hopes, however, that the proposals outlined to protect our environment will be fully implemented and not left in abeyance, as proposals often are in both Green and White Papers.

Having accepted the outline of the main elements of attractions to tourists in Ireland I must say that I am disappointed with the imbalance in the proposed policy measures to develop them. I refer specifically to culture. This imbalance is illustrated by the scant recognition given to our culture in the White Paper generally. In chapter 11.10 cultural matters are referred to as follows:

Positive action has already been taken to centralise responsibility for the various cultural agencies which are financed by the State. Thus the major cultural institutions and agencies including the National Museum, National Gallery, Chester Beatty Library, National Concert Hall as well as the Arts Council are now under the responsibility of a Minister of State for Arts and Culture. Bord Fáilte will be glad to offer its special expertise and advice to any cultural institution on how best to promote and organise its resources and facilities in a way which will appeal to tourists.

One would expect that in view of the great variety of our national culture and its equally great potential in the context of promoting tourism, a paper such as this would contain proposals in regard to the best means whereby this potential would be harnessed to popularise and develop tourism on a national basis. Such, however, is not the case. This omission, to say the least, is very disappointing.

I must now return to the last sentence of the paragraph from which I have just quoted. It says:

Bord Fáilte will be glad to offer its special expertise and advice to any cultural institution on how best to promote and organise its resources and facilities in a way which appeals to tourists.

This has already happened when, at the request of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Bord Fáilte agreed to initiate a scheme whereby groups of musicians, singers and dancers would perform on a regular basis in tithe ceoil and hotels during the summer season in selected areas of the country. The scheme, which was initially known as Seisiún, proved instantly popular and successful. Not surprisingly, it was extended each year to meet the growing demands and became known as the national entertainment scheme. More recently, Comhaltas have designated the scheme as a practical forum for Irish traditional performers.

Since all such cultural schemes and agencies became the responsibility of the Minister of State for Arts and Culture, Deputy Ted Nealon, the Comhaltas national entertainment scheme has been operating successfully, in co-operation with the Arts Council, for the past five or six years. Although the scheme continued to prosper and demand for expansion increased, for some strange reason, the Arts Council decided to decrease the funding for the scheme in 1985. This was done despite the fact that the centres for the current year were already contracted. This added to the already existing financial difficulties of Comhaltas because the organisation had to honour its commitments given from its own inadequate resources. In turn this led to much disappointment, frustration and even confrontation with the Arts Council. I do not intend to burden the House with unnecessary details or figures which emerged as a result of these discussions. Senators will already be aware of the salient facts of this grave injustice to our organisation, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, but many Senators may not be aware that it is the declared intention of the Arts Council to discontinue the national entertainment scheme in 1986. Comhaltas have been informed that there will be no funding forthcoming from the Arts Council from 1986 — in other words, this hugely popular and extremely national entertainment scheme, aimed primarily at promoting tourism, is being ignominiously axed. I consider this to be both incredible and scandalous.

I propose to summarise the main details of this scheme and leave the Senators to judge for themselves whether the discontinuance can be justified on any grounds by the Arts Council. This is the summary: (1) the national entertainment scheme of Comhaltas has been operating for 15 years. (2) In addition to providing an extensive network of entertainment in the four provinces involving local talent, it has an ongoing effect on involvement, standards and tuition. In fact, the seasonal performances are but one of the many beneficial results of this scheme. (3) The scheme is an important education forum for traditional performers. (4) The scheme has helped to train artists for tours, television and other outlets. In 1985 there were 334 performances from Seisiún, Fontraí and Cois Teallaigh — these are additional agencies operating under Comhaltas — and that get,pro rata rating from the grant which comes from the Arts Council. This totals 3,625 artist producer nights. That is a significant figure. (5) There have been numerous extra seasonal Seisiún performances throughout the year at seminars, conferences, festivals, tourist functions, etc. It is estimated — and this is a conservative estimate — that there have been attendances of over 100,000 people at the seasonal and extra-seasonal performances. That, I would submit, is a magnificent achievement by any organisation and I think it is unequalled by any organisation in this country. (6) Numerous teach ceoil design centres throughout the country who participate in the scheme at a nominal charge and receive receipts each night depend on this scheme for the finance to keep these local artists centres open. This scheme, therefore, is a vehicle for providing subvention to these centres. (7) The hotels in the scheme who donate a considerable sum towards the scheme provide comfortable facilities for the scheme itself.

The achievement contained in these seven points, which may be verified at any time by anyone interested, is spectacular and deserves the support of the State and of Bord Fáilte. The discontinuance of this scheme, therefore, cannot be justified on any grounds by the Arts Council. That summary speaks for itself and needs no further elaboration. I would urge the Minister, therefore, to ensure that the decision by the Arts Council, to abolish such a praiseworthy scheme is withdrawn. I appreciate and anticipate that the Minister may be faced with the difficulty that the Arts Council is a statutory body and has control, therefore, of its own affairs. But surely this is a case where it may be truly said that he who pays the piper has a right to call the tune.

Like every other statutory body the Arts Council receives its funds from State revenue. Equally it has a duty to allocate these funds equitably. The Arts Council receives State funding of £5,500,000 per year. Out of that Comhaltas received 1 to 1½ per cent of an allocation. That is all and that is a fact. Such a punitive allocation to national movement such as Comhaltas Ceolteoirí Éireann so fruitfully involved in the preservation of all that is best in our native culture could never be justified or equitable. I promised not to go into figures. However, I would point out that this is a matter that requires investigation. I am seriously appealing to the Minister and to the Government to investigate this incomprehensible and unjust treatment of Comhaltas Ceolteoirí Éireann by the Arts Council. If our national entertainment scheme is abolished, as threatened, the country will have lost a great network of entertainment and tourism will have lost a great ally. I sincerely hope this will not happen. It would appear that only Government intervention can prevent it. I hope that that intervention will take place and that this scheme will be saved.

It gives me no pleasure to speak thus. Indeed I very much regret that it is necessary for me to do so. I am motivated by a sincere and lifelong commitment to the preservation of our culture in all its forms. Anyone who has seen the performances by these groups will be aware of their standards and expertise in presentation and commitment. Above all, those who were privileged to see the televised production in Ballyporeen on the occasion of President Reagan's visit they will have no doubt of the importance of this scheme to Ireland and to the promotion of tourism. I fervently appeal to the Minister to have this precious national scheme restored and preserved.

I can understand people taking their own particular aspect of the question of tourism and dealing with that in great depth. In any situation where one is trying to develop trade there are bound to be certain areas which may be neglected. However, if anybody reads the White Paper and has regard to what has passed in recent months they would have to welcome the White Paper. I would like to try to dwell on the more positive aspects of what has arisen out of that, both through the White Paper and the activity that has followed it or coincided with it.

We have to acknowledge that, for the first time ever, a White Paper on tourism has been published by any Government in Ireland. That gives a clear indication of the present Government's attitude to it for future reference. It is a clear indication that from now on it will be a central part of Government policy. The Government have gone to the trouble of getting a White Paper together, have given effect to some of the recommendations, are working on others and have made it a central part of Government activity.

It is necessary for us to realise that we are not only talking about tourism, we are talking about a vehicle for job creation and big money earnings. The real trick is to earn money from tourism and not, if at all possible, to spend taxpayers money, to excess or in futile ways. This is what the White Paper deals with. The onus is on the Government to see that the spending is as effective as possible. To make it effective certain conditions must be laid down. While I am not an advocate of the private enterprise system, I am realistic enough to know that, in the circumstances in which we live, in the mixed economy, there is no way people will put their money into a business unless they get some assurance of profit out of it. Therefore the conditions must be right and the Government must be seen to act very responsibly in providing initiatives and incentives. We are in the business of asking people to risk financing new projects. In the course of trying to do this we must emphasise a change of the old ideas and the introduction of new ones. There must be new packages, new interests and they must be coupled with the attractions which are already there. The Government have to look to an extension of the season so the youth can be facilitated, the question of the shopping needs of tourists, the question of hygiene regulations and the rescheduling of school and work holidays. We are talking about an industry which is a vital part of our economy. It accounts for a very substantial amount of our exports of goods and services. This must be encouraged. It must be encouraged through pursuing the course of action that to some extent has been proven successful. We must not only encourage that diligently but also develop on it. In order to do this one has to work at the regional levels. We are talking about maximising the effectiveness of whatever one introduces. In essence the onus is on the Government to have a broad strategy of restoring competitiveness, which is vitally important.

The national planBuilding on Reality acknowledged this. It also acknowledged the potential of the tourism industry to make a significant contribution to economic growth over the three year period covered by the plan. The plan considers a more selective approach to allocations and to the rationalisation of institutions to facilitate tourism.

Senators spoke about the negative aspects but people are likely to crow more in their own particular bailiwick about an aspect of something that is not working well or some aspect of something they favour. Most fair minded people who look at the 1985 tourism figures will see that those responsible for drawing up the document dealing with tourism in the national plan got it right. The institutions that look after arranging facilities have got it right as well. The strategy has worked well.

Credit must go to the Minister for Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism and to the Minister of State who have been active in the area of tourism. In 1985 foreign earnings amounted to £712 million which is an all time record and £126 million more than in 1984. When you consider the growth in real terms in overseas tourism markets, then you can say that there is real progress being made and real benefits accruing to the economy from the planning and drawing up of the White Paper and Government attention to detail coinciding with and arising out of the White Paper.

Excluding Northern Ireland and Irish carriers, the earnings will be £475 million or £92 million more than 1984 or 17 per cent in real terms. There is also a 3 per cent increase in overseas visitors or £1.9 million. The Minister of State has consistently argued on behalf of the industry for a reduction in the level of taxation on tourism-related activities. The idea was to bring about an improvement in our international competitiveness. Everybody who knows the state of the economy at the moment will accept that that was no easy problem. It was a problem which not only faced the country but particularly a sector with a very good earning potential such as Irish tourism which was losing its competitiveness. It was losing its competitiveness stemming from the high domestic inflation and consequently it was a big problem for the Minister of State but he tackled it well, thanks to his advisers and other bodies, and he seems to have got it right.

In this regard the 1985 budget deals with the question of restructuring the VAT regime. It has turned out to be a major boost to tourism. VAT was reduced from 18 per cent to 10 per cent on accommodation, car, caravan and boat hire. That is an indication of the Government's firm commitment to the future of the industry. So far it has made a major contribution towards restoring and maintaining competitiveness. The VAT rebate scheme which was introduced in 1984 is a very good incentive to overseas visitors. It enables them to reclaim the VAT paid on goods purchased in Ireland — goods exported in their personal baggage. This scheme should be encouraged. It has led to increased visitor spending. When you attract people to a country you must persuade them to spend a little bit more money than they would normally do. There must be incentives for this. The US visitors have been attracted to this. Another attraction for the US visitor is the good exchange rate of the dollar. The reduction of VAT could do a lot of good work in other areas if the scope was there for it. It should be recognised as a significant contribution to revenue earnings this year. Perhaps the Government should take the example of what can be done in tourism and have a look at other areas of high earning to see if VAT reductions could not assist in those areas as well. What will happen is that the momentum will be increased through greater efforts arising out of the White Paper.

In 1985 tourism from Britain is expected to earn in real terms almost £170 million which is an increase of 4 per cent. Continental Europe is showing a 22 per cent increased growth in revenue. In real terms that would be a 15 per cent growth, or £80.9 million compared with £66.5 million last year. The North American trade is improving but so also is the European trade. The individual European markets have shown real increases. For example, there is a 25 per cent increase from France, 16 per cent from Holland, 10 per cent from Germany, somewhere in the region of 16 per cent from Italy and Scandinavia. This has provided revenue of £23.6 million and in real terms 4 per cent.

The £200 million from North American traffic is a very spectacular result. It is an improvement of 43 per cent, or 35 per cent in real terms more than last year. We are talking about a very large increase in the number of visitors from North America. There were about 426,000 visitors from North America last year. That is an increase of 24 per cent over the previous year. That is attributable to the Government policy of looking at the potential of tourism as an area for job creation. The fact that I am putting forward some concrete proposals for improvements in tourism does not mean that I do not believe there is room for improvement. Far from it. There is much room to move tourist traffic into areas of the country that have not been able to share fully in the whole coach tour business. Senator Fitzsimons referred to this this morning. There are areas where the coach tour traffic of North Americans can be developed if the people are given the right incentives. We must acknowledge the improvements we have seen over the last 12 months. Greater marketing initiatives will probably be undertaken. That will be coupled with the new hotels grants scheme which was announced. The hotels grants scheme will encourage smaller hotels to become more actively involved in the whole area of overseas markets. The scheme will generate an investment of at least £10 million. It will provide for approximately 150 projects. In other areas, non-eligible areas, there is scope for improvement.

With regard to the extension of pub opening hours, some people have had reservations about that. I would not emphasise that matter as being the most important aspect of the White Paper but I think it will do its job. The granting of full liquor licences to restaurants will be the important thing. The draftsman is working on the necessary legislation to make this a reality. Here we see an initiative that will encourage visitors to spend more while they are here.

In regard to the building, construction and repair work, the idea is to generate as soon as possible the maximum level of building and construction in facilities for tourists. Projects which have not already been started will be eligible for assistance. The White Paper not only sets out the question of formulation of policy but also deals with the importance of the industry and with the role of the public and private sector. It takes into account the question of performance and competitiveness.

Senator Fitzsimons spoke about the environment this morning. The White Paper has very serious regard to that and, while everything cannot be spelt out in detail, I have no doubt that there is great interest in the whole environmental area.

Promotion and marketing are well covered in the White Paper. They have looked at the question of access transport. The question of targets for growth was also looked at. I am sure there will be progress made in that area also. The whole question of amenities, facilities, accommodation, investment and tourist related matters have all been looked at in the White Paper.

The problems of B & I and Irish Continental Lines are regrettable. There were good prospects for developing and I have not written them off yet. With regard to ICL there is still scope there. The continuation of a proper service between Rosslare and Le Havre can help the continental market to develop. I do not know what effect the liquidator's action will have on ICL but I think ICL is a fairly healthy comany. This is something we should have regard to considering that we have had an increase in visitors from the Continent. We should assume that any service that is there at the moment is not diminished in any way, even if it means taking another look at the whole question of ICL. This company is viable. It is playing a good role between Rosslare and Le Havre and can be developed to accommodate further tourist traffic, thereby helping us to generate more money and jobs in the tourist industry There is real growth in the tourist industry. There is great potential in tourism.

Regarding construction and repair work in hotels, many people would agree that reception areas in hotels need improvement. Kitchen facilities and public toilets also need to be improved. Interior and exterior maintenance is needed in many hotels. Grants should be given to a greater extent. There are deficiencies in those areas. Fire safety needs to be looked at as well. Grants encourage people to do maintenance and repair work on hotels. I hope the grant will be increased and that we will see improvements.

The White Paper encourages greater professionalism not only in administering, organising and arranging the institutions that provide facilities but also in making people aware of the investment it is going to create. That will come from within the industry. If it comes from the industry it means there will be more development and growth. There will be greater incentives to encourage people to make Ireland their holiday venue for many years.

One has to consider further the off-season. Financial assistance to hotels would not be out of place. Financial assistance would be found to be of value to the hotels and to the industry. I like the idea of the Minister's marketing plansvis-a-vis anyone who wants to avail of the new grant. The Minister's idea is that they would agree to three-year export marketing plans with Bord Fáilte. They would commit themselves to new resources of marketing. I wish the Minister well with his new idea.

People will be able to offer an upgrading of the existing facilities if they avail of the incentives from the Department. If we go back to the national plan and look at the White Paper, we will see the improvements in 1985. There is the potential for 700 new jobs in the construction area alone. If one creates so many jobs in the construction area in hotel repair work this could result in up to 1,000 jobs.

Finally, I wonder if the allocation to Bord Fáilte's non-capital budget is sufficient. It has increased from £22.107 million to £24.753 million. It represents an increase of £1 million in real terms. The allocation may not be sufficient taking account of the other incentives given to the industry and having regard to the potential increase in 1986. I would like the Minister to make a comment on that situation. I would like to congratulate both the Minister for Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism and the Minister for State — and particularly the Minister of State who has special responsibility in this area — for the tenacity with which they have pursued the people who form the tourist industry and on how they have succeeded in winning their confidence and goodwill. The evidence of that is on the record. I also thank the Government for giving their support. The White Paper will now be a central part of the Government's economic policy. That is a major step forward.

I, too, would like to congratulate the Minister of State with special responsibility for tourism and also Bord Fáilte for the dynamic way in which the whole tourist industry has been tackled since 1939. I think the inauguration of Bord Fáilte, by way of legislation passed by both Houses in 1939, has been more than vindicated by their performance to date.

I welcome the report, particularly because it focuses all our attention on a very vital component of our economic infrastructure, tourism. While I have been more than complimentary in the past in relation to our tourist development, nevertheless I feel that there remains a lot to be done.

This is the silly season in relation to speculation concerning oil finds and the farming out of exploration blocks off the Celtic Sea. There is a lot of speculation at present about whether or not there is another oil find off County Waterford. But we are sitting on a resource that has as much, and more, realisable potential than an oil find, a lead find or a zinc find, and that is the tourist industry. The figures in the report indicating the total export earnings for 1983 of £521 million help to put in focus the magnitude of the industry with which we are dealing. The figure for 1984 was £591 million by way of total export earnings. We are not too sure what the 1985 figure is yet, but all the predictions indicate that we are back again into the boom season.

One of the vital aspects of this industry which elevates it above the normal industrial and manufacturing industry is the fact that, as the report points out, goods and services purchased in relation to the industry are essentially kept within the economy. Furthermore, the low import content — something in the region of 7.96 per cent — serves to underline its indigenous nature and value to the economy as a whole. Also, the fact that the vast majority of our tourist enterprises are Irish-owned, again helps to keep within the economy the earnings that are generated therefrom. A high percentage of the tourist business revolves around the areas that have non-intensive industries or little agricultural development. These are the areas that primarily benefit from tourism.

The very impressive statistics show that in 1977 there were 25,900 people in fulltime employment in the tourist industry and 20,000 in seasonal employment. That sets us a target that we have not alone to emulate but, in fact, to surpass. There has, as has been pointed out in the report, a fall-off, particularly in the years 1980-83. I would like again to reiterate my compliments and congratulations to Bord Fáilte for the development of many facets of the industry. I congratulate them, first of all, on the discretionary, flexible, realistic way in which they apply the financial incentives to various people who are thinking about setting up and developing within the tourist framework, and also on the manner in which they have readily made available their advisory service and set down very valuable guidelines and markers. They have carried out admirably their regulatory role in relation to ensuring that standards are maintained and improved. They have also undertaken various competitions in order to enhance and preserve the environment. I am thinking in particular of the Tidy Towns Competition, the Tidy Beaches Competition, the Tidy Streets Competition and The Tidy Districts Competition. All of those, individually and collectively, help to enhance the environment and to embellish the general countryside. At the same time they have helped to develop within the people who are participating both young and old, a sense of community awareness, a sense of environment and a sense of being Irish and being proud of being Irish. In this area there is an awful lot more to be done.

For some reason or other we have in this country what might be called a litter epidemic. To me it is an indictment of ourselves as citizens, of our role as parents and of our role as educators. We have civics for first year and second-year students at post-primary level. We must get across to young people the fact that cleanliness, tidiness and a litter-free country is vital if we are going to make the country a better place to live in and if we are going to have the spin-off effects of attracting tourists here. There are times I despair when I see the villages and towns of rural Ireland on a Sunday morning after the night before. They are littered with chip cartons, newspaper wrappings and so on. The commercial concerns have a role to play here in relation to the provision of adequate bin services outside particular premises. There is an old adage, and it is a very true one: if everyone swept outside his own door, the job would be done properly. For some reason or other, even though we shine in many areas of our tourist performance, this is one area where we have slipped up badly. We have laws, but for some reason or other we are not imposing them.

The maintenance of dumps and skips and central dumping areas by local authorities also needs attention. Very often local authorities are given the role of being the policeman, but it is very hard for local authorities to police properly when very often they themselves are the prime offenders. I saw a pollution case recently where a particular enterprise was being hauled over the coals by a local community. There was a reluctance on the part of the local authority to move in to implement the licensing regulations and the various clauses and stipulations therein, the reason being that the local authority were also contributing by virtue of the fact that they had failed to ensure that the treatment works attached to the local authority sewage plant was in proper working order. It is very hard for a local authority to act as a policeman when the policeman himself is one of the chief defaulters and perpetrators of environmental hazards and pollution.

We have not adequately developed our sports and recreational facilities in rural areas. The report stated that last year 60,000 people came to this country in order to avail of outdoor pursuits and sporting activities such as orienteering, mountaineering and so on. We are sitting on a goldmine in this regard. Yesterday the Joint Committee on Secondary Legislation of the EC was debating the whole business of acid rain, the possible consequences of Moneypoint and the possibility of our exporting contamination by way of acid rain to Scandinavian countries, as the Germans and the UK have done in the past. We do not have an acid rain problem here. We have relatively pollution-free fresh air. We are, in that respect, the gem of Western Europe, or Europe in general. It is something that we must exploit and develop. While in the past we did not exploit our rurality, our fresh air and our cleanliness, these are benefits that we have got to market.

This is something that applies also in relation to our food. I agree with those people who say that we should, if at all possible, try to resist the tendency to allow the utilisation of hormones, either natural or synthetic. Again, in relation to food, we have an awful lot to offer. In relation to the presentation of food the continentals can leave us far behind. I would like to pay tribute in particular to Bord Fáilte, CERT, Bord Iascaigh Mhara and to the various agencies who have been trying and succeeding — but perhaps not succeeding quickly enough — to create a consciousness and awareness of the fact that we have good food and cook it well but that we have got to present it and market it properly.

One of the major bugbears, apart from the Northern Ireland problem, in relation to our whole tourist industry here has been our lack of competitiveness. There were people outside the gate here today looking for 10 per cent special awards, which were ruled out in the national plan. There is a major outcry from trade union groups — and I am a trade unionist myself — in relation to looking for a new national wage round. These people should see that an exorbitant wage round will blow the roof off the economic framework that has been achieved. It will send inflation escalating into double figures such as we had in 1981. It will negative, strangulate and totally neutralise whatever benefits might accrue to these people by way of short term gain. The whole consequential benefit will be lost if we allow inflation get out of hand. Nowhere does inflation, or the ravages of inflation, apply more than in the whole area of tourism, because at the end of the day if we cannot be competitive, we will not succeed. We pride ourselves on getting our inflation down to 5 per cent. We pride ourselves that over the last two years we have got the nuts and bolts of the economy right. We pride ourselves that we are getting competitive again. But, if we look over our shoulders at our competitors, we will see that they have become even more competitive than we have. There is a lesson there and it is this: unless we can keep competitive, unless we can give people value for money and unless we can keep our inflation rate down, we are going nowhere.

I would like to join with Senator Harte in complimenting the Government for undertaking to reduce the VAT on caravan and on hotel accommodation from 23 per cent to 10 per cent. They reduced the VAT on car hire also. It has worked. This is the kind of imaginative initiative that we need. We had another example where they reduced the excise duty on spirits in order to try to reduce cross-Border spirit smuggling. I honestly believe that the Government will take heart from the evidence that is there to prove it that if one introduces selective, imaginative initiatives in selected areas they will have the desired effect. They will not be abused.

The report quite rightly highlights the many enhancing features this country has. Ireland, however, despite the fact that we are relatively pollution-free and that we have got fairly competitive in relation to the cost of holidaying here suffers from the international perception of being an expensive country. Therefore, there is an obligation on the Minister and on the Minister of State, Bord Fáilte and all the other promotional agencies to neutralise and erase that attitude. They must promote the idea abroad that there is a new Ireland, that there is a reasonable and a cheap Ireland, and that there is an Ireland where you get good value for money. We have, as the report says, scenery. We have scenery, but on the other hand we have the example of local authorities. I mentioned local authorities and their remission in respect of pollution control. We have local authorities, in the areas of most favourable amenities, month after month at their local authority meetings using the divisive section 4 in order to bulldoze through planning regulations. I look with a lot of sadness at the lefthand side of the road as one goes from Galway city out towards Salthill and to Barna to see how the horizon and the building line has virtually been erased by ribbon-building all along the lefthand side of the road. It is spoiling a very beautiful landscape, coastline and bay, which is one of the most beautiful in the world. Thankfully, at Mayo County Council level, we manage collectively between the two major parties to come together and bury our differences in order to arrive at a rationale. We have not had a section 4 application for the last 18 months. I hope the amenities of the county will be preserved for future generations, and future generations will thank us.

Again, we have a unique culture here of our own. We have — and Senator de Brún has referred to it — a cultural tradition in relation to music, song, dance and art — a proud history and a proud past. Many evidences and examples of this still exist. We have to market them, and sell them, and do so tastefully. We have always prided ourselves on being a friendly people. We are a very lawful people. This is something we have to exploit. We have to ensure that it is there and that it is not being lost, and that the old grá mo chroí attitude of people, the old friendship and the old traditions, are nurtured and kept alive on a genuine basis. They are not something artificial to be marketed simply from the point of view of plugging-in to the vast resources that are internationally available for such cultural traditions.

The report rightly points out that we have also handicaps and disabilities. We are not one of the primary sun districts of the world. This year certainly underlined that fact. I hope the tourists that came here in such numbers this year will not be put off by the fact that we have had one of the most abysmal summers that we have ever had. Again, when one has an uncertain climate and uncertain weather we have to compensate by ensuring that we give the people more than adequate compensation in other areas, such as the ones that I mentioned earlier. Again, with reference to the Northern Ireland problem — and I hope we are on the first step towards a resolution of that problem — there is no question whatsoever about it, but that since 1969 a common perception abroad of people is that Ireland is not a very safe place to visit. Too often they confuse the North and the South. Again, we have geographical isolation. We are the most insular and the most remote country within the European Economic Community. The additional cost of getting here and the quality of our roads as a result of our insularity will have to be addressed. If there are problems at national level, there are also particular problems at district level.

I come, as many Senators in this House do, from the west of Ireland. We do not have any ferry service to the west of Ireland. We do not have any operational airport in the west of Ireland. I honestly believe that the day is gone of the tourist sitting in a bus when he gets off the ferry at Dún Laoghaire, or when he gets off from Roscoff at Cork, for three and a half to four hours on bumpy roads. We will have to do something to open up the west of Ireland. If one talks to people in the Ireland West section, which is the decentralised section of Bord Fáilte, and is the local Regional Tourism Organisation, they will tell you that the west of Ireland does not have the experience that other areas of the country have. Apart from a few places like Galway and Westport, the province, as a region did not benefit and did not have the same degree of tourist presence as the other areas.

Part and parcel of the tourist pattern now is that tourists disembark with their cars at Cork or they get off at Shannon and they do the Ring of Kerry. The come as far as Bunratty. They see Irish culture at close quarters with the folk village there. They turn and go back down south again. I am underlining the fact that something will have to be done in order to try to open up the west of Ireland. We really need an injection of cash badly, particularly in relation to the development of national primary and national secondary roads in order to bring the main feeder arteries for tourists up to the standard of the rest of the country and up to European standards.

The west of Ireland has great potential. We have not got just good fishing grounds; I honestly believe we have the best fishing grounds in Europe. In my own county we have Lough Conn and Lough Mask. In Galway we have Lough Corrib, Lough Cullen, Lough Garra and they are among the best game-fishing grounds in Europe.

We also have another resource that has been largely untapped and that is coarsefishing. I come from a place called Ballyhaunis. A survey carried out recently by the Chamber of Commerce came up with the figure that there are 110 fresh water lakes within a ten-mile radius. This is the kind of resource that would be a haven to an English or a German fisherman if they were properly marketed and sold. That is why I again ask that when local initiatives come from Chambers of Commerce, from local development organisations, local tourist organisations, Bord Fáilte would think on a local and parochial basis.

Debate adjourned.