Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (503)

Marian Harkin


620 Ms Harkin asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the Government strategy in response to the declining overseas tourism numbers visiting the north west of the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1246/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism)

One of the key objectives of national tourism policy is to achieve as wide as possible a distribution of visitor numbers across the different regions. Achieving that goal has long been recognised as a major challenge and is something that is fully reflected in the programmes and initiatives operated by Fáilte Ireland — the National Tourism Development Authority — by Tourism Ireland, and in the action plan set out in the recent report by the tourism policy review group. Its report sets out a strategy for tourism that is comprehensive, coherent and challenging for both Government Departments and agencies and for the industry itself. It has put the emphasis on an agenda for action by highlighting 70 individual recommended actions that will support the development of the tourism sector over the next decade.

While many of the actions proposed by the review group will have an impact on the regional distribution of tourism, key actions in this regard include those relating to product development, tourism promotion, access transport and the appropriate infrastructure and arrangements for the delivery of tourism at regional level.

I have no direct responsibility in relation to individual actions or measures relating to tourism promotion or development insofar as specific areas of the country are concerned, as these are a day-to-day function of the tourism State agencies. However, the Deputy may wish to note that a number of programmes and initiatives particularly favour the regional distribution of tourists. These include the nature and focus of the tourism product development scheme, the differential levels of support offered to regional tourism authorities for marketing purposes, the use of predominantly rural imagery in the advertising and promotion of Ireland, both at home and abroad, the regional coverage with respect to visiting media and the specific focus on achieving a wide spread of visitors in relation to access transport policies.