Thursday, 20 June 2013

Questions (54)

Robert Troy

Question:

54. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the profit from the gift shop sales at the State’s tourist and historical sites run by the Office of Public Works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29680/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I have answered a series of questions (Nos. 26589 – 26592 on 30As indicated at that time, there are two types of retail operation at heritage visitor sites managed by the OPW; the first is where a small amount of material is sold directly by the sites themselves; the second is where a franchise operation manages the retail operation separate from the OPW.

The majority of the 70 attended visitor sites managed by the OPW do not operate a separate retail outlet for gift merchandise but sell limited visitor material on an across the counter basis. As this operation is managed by site Guide staff as part of their normal range of duties, it is not therefore feasible to derive accurate figures in relation to the cost base for the retail activity (as opposed to all of the separate guiding and related duties), and information relating to the profit generated by such activity is not available. In the main, the kind of merchandise sold is low volume and focusses, for the most part, on postcards and publications related to the site or other historical sites nearby.

Two visitor sites, namely Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange) Visitor Centre in Co. Meath and Dublin Castle have designated retail outlets which operate on a franchise basis. The type of merchadise sold at these locations is much more varied and would encompass what might be termed more general visitor memorabilia rather than the historic publications material found at the majority of OPW manned sites.

In the case of Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre, the franchise operation was introduced in June 2012 with a fee of €20,000 per annum payable. The fees for 2010, 2011 and 2012 in respect of Dublin Castle Gift Shop amounted to €19,046.16.

In general, the majority of OPW visitor sites have limited space and facilities to operate a retail outlet. The primary focus at OPW sites is on the preservation and presentation of the sites in question and the commercial activity referred to is largely secondary. The scope to develop more substantial retail outlets is therefore to an extent curtailed by both the lack of physical space and the distraction from the core aim. There are consequently no immediate plans for the development / expansion of this area of operations, though additional franchise operations will be considered where space and other consi derations permit.