Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Questions (20, 27)

Alan Farrell

Question:

20. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the progress to date toward the hosting of the rugby world cup; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15129/14]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

27. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which discussions continue to develop with sporting organisations with a view to maximisation of tourism opportunities in association with the rugby world cup or other such sporting events; the extent to which the economic benefit in such circumstances has been quantified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15139/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 20 and 27 together.

Last November the Government considered a Memorandum on the discussions and analysis to date on a potential bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023.  While the Memorandum identified a number of challenges, the great potential of the event is also clear and I believe that hosting the Rugby World Cup on a cross-border basis in 2023 would be a great opportunity for Northern Ireland and Ireland.  In response to the Memorandum, the Government expressed strong support for the proposal and for the conduct of further work to get to the stage of making a formal decision to bid. 

In order to progress the matter further, Minister Ring and I met with Minister Arlene Foster and Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, who are the Ministers respectively responsible for tourism and sport in the Northern Ireland Executive, in Armagh on 22 January.  We agreed to establish a working group to examine some key issues further and to report back to Ministers in the Summer.  The working group, chaired by Hugo MacNeill, has held two meetings to date with the next meeting scheduled to take place on 11 April.  I look forward to receiving their report. 

More broadly, the hosting of major sports events can deliver additional international visits and helps to put Ireland onto travel itineraries as a holiday destination.  I am supportive of the ongoing efforts of the Tourism Agencies and the National Governing Bodies of Sport to attract international events, subject, of course, to an assessment of the costs/benefits involved in any State financial support.  With this in mind, I look forward to the Giro d'Italia coming to Ireland next May.