I propose to take Questions Nos. 120, 142 and 146 together.
These questions relate to the development of a new tourism policy.
I am conscious that it is a decade since the publication of the "New Horizons" tourism strategy and over three years since the last review of strategy by the Tourism Renewal Group. Therefore, I confirmed my intention to begin work on a tourism policy review when I published my Departmental Priorities for 2013.
I have asked my officials to examine various approaches to such a review, including the implications for timing and resources required. At this early stage, no final decisions have been made regarding how such a review will be carried out and its final format, and I am interested in any thoughts the Deputies may have on this. However, I am considering a multistage process, in which I would first outline my overall approach in a draft statement later this year, followed by a consultation process, before finalising the policy. I believe that the Oireachtas Joint Committee that covers tourism could have an important role in the consultation process. Once this policy has been set, it would provide a robust foundation for a broader tourism strategy and action plan reflecting these policy priorities and the views of key stakeholders and consumers. The Government’s priorities for tourism were outlined in the Programme for Government 2011. In the context of the challenges facing both the sector and the wider economy, rather than pursue separate strategies for the tourism sector, the Government integrated tourism into the broader economic strategic framework. This overall s approach, complemented by the work of the tourism agencies, has worked well to date.
Key Programme for Government commitments were reflected in the Government’s subsequent Jobs Initiative, with immediate priority actions set out in the annual Action Plans for Jobs. The Government has already delivered on several measures to reduce costs for tourists and for tourism businesses, therefore enhancing Ireland’s competitiveness, and last week’s Finance Bill provides a further stimulus for the tourism sector.
It is too early to comment on any specific treatment, in the policy review, of particular markets such as Great Britain or of specific destinations such as Cork. In addition, it is important to distinguish what are essentially operational matters, such as the approach to the development of specific destinations or markets, from the higher-level policy priorities. Since specific marketing strategies for Britain are an operational matter for Tourism Ireland Limited, I have referred this aspect of Deputy McHugh's question to Tourism Ireland for additional material. Since the development of individual regions is an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland, I have referred this aspect of Deputy Buttimer's question to Fáilte Ireland for direct reply. In each case, please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.