Wild Atlantic Way Project

Questions (258)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

258. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he expects tourism to grow on foot of the development of the Wild Atlantic Way; the extent to which specific markets are in mind in this context; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15637/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Wild Atlantic Way is set to be Ireland's first long-distance touring route, stretching along the Atlantic coast from Donegal to West Cork.  It is planned to develop it into an attraction of international scale, on a par with the Garden Route in South Africa or the Great Ocean Road in Australia, that will achieve greater visibility for the west coast of Ireland in overseas tourist markets. With signposting on the route due to be completed this month it is too early to comment on the impact on visitor numbers. However, the Wild Atlantic Way is a major element of the overseas promotion of Ireland as a destination by Tourism Ireland this year, and Tourism Ireland is targeting growth in visits of 4%, with a focus on our largest source markets in Great Britain, the USA, Germany and France.  

I do not have a direct role in the development and marketing of the Wild Atlantic Way which are matters for the boards and management of the tourism agencies. I have referred the Deputy's question to  Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland for further detail on the development and marketing of the route. Please contact my private office if a reply is not received within ten working days.

Sports Events

Questions (259, 277)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

259. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which the rugby world cup or the hosting of other major sporting events can be seen as a means of economic benefit to tourism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15638/14]

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Brendan Griffin

Question:

277. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding efforts to bring the 2023 rugby world cup here; if he envisages County Kerry being a host venue in the eventuality of Ireland hosting the tournament; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15679/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 259 and 277 together.

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.    

In relation to the Rugby World Cup, last November the Government considered a Memorandum on the discussions and analysis to date on a potential bid to host the 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 in 2023 would be a great opportunity for Northern Ireland and Ireland.  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.    

Minister Ring and I have since agreed with our Northern Ireland ministerial colleagues to establish a working group to examine some key issues, including the potential economic return from hosting the tournament through inbound tourism, and to report back to us 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.   

In relation to proposed venues, this will only be decided as part of the formulation of a formal bid to host the Cup and in response to the stadia requirements contained in the Invitation to Tender for the 2023 Rugby World Cup which has yet to be issued by the International Rugby Board (IRB).

Tourism Promotion

Questions (260, 266, 270)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

260. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will indicate, based on tourism figures for 2013, the extent to which expansion opportunities are likely to emerge in 2014 with consequent economic benefit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15639/14]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

266. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he expects to replicate strategies employed in The Gathering in the context of the promotion of tourism in 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15645/14]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

270. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which adequate hotel and other tourism supportive accommodation and facilities are available to meet the requirements of the sector in the coming years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15649/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 260, 266 and 270 together.

Figures published last week show that 2013 was a very successful year for Irish tourism with overseas visit numbers up by over 7% and the associated revenue up by 11.9%. My aim is to maintain this momentum this year and early indications are positive in this regard. Overseas visits for December 2013 to February 2014 were up by 11% compared to the corresponding period a year earlier.

The approved Tourism Ireland Business Plan for 2014 targets growth in visit numbers to Ireland of a further 4% this year and growth in associated visitor revenue of 7%.  Priority overseas markets will again be the United States, Great Britain, Germany and France, which together deliver almost three-quarters of all our overseas visitors but promotions will also continue in other markets. 

Tourism Ireland, working closely with Fáilte Ireland, is placing a major focus on  highlighting the Wild Atlantic Way this year.  It will also promote key events, including the visit of the Giro d’Italia, and the Croke Park Classic American football game. I am confident that other measures such as the retention of the 9% VAT rate, the reduction of the air travel tax to zero, and the increased air access to Ireland will also help to ensure that the targets are met. Given the growth levels targeted for 2014 and the occupancy levels across all accommodation types I am satisfied that, while there may be some pressures in some areas during periods of peak demand, there is generally sufficient capacity to meet the growth anticipated.  

Some of the positive legacies of The Gathering include the fact that all of the increased air capacity secured for the year of The Gathering has been retained for 2014 with a number of additional routes confirmed. Furthermore, many of the events which were initiated in 2013 will be repeated while the experience gained by using the community activation process and local authorities has provided many lessons which could be applied in future projects.

Transport Policy

Questions (261)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

261. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which efficiencies in the transport sector, both public and private, are achievable through co-ordination and integration where possible; if efficiencies can be achieved and services improved by linking road, rail, air and sea transport, with possible indigenous benefit and enhanced international activity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15640/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

My Department and I constantly monitor our national transport facilities to ensure that, given the resources available, they are achieving their greatest potential. An integrated and co-ordinated transport system is an important consideration when it comes to future decisions on transport investment. In making decisions as to future expenditure, my Department has been active to ensure that a co-ordinated approach is taken and that we do not look at land, maritime or aviation transport in isolation from each other. My Department is also considering a Strategic Framework for Investment in Land Transport to ensure that investment decisions in the transport sector will in future have a much more rigorous evidence base than was the case in the past and to enable us to prioritise the projects that offer the greatest economic and social return.  

At a European level, my Department has been and will continue to actively engage with the Trans European Network for Transport (TEN-T) and to ensure it is integrated into Irish transport policy making. The TEN-T regulations set out a multi-modal transport network across the European Union and aim to ensure integration between the various modes. This multi-modal EU policy is supported by domestic policy such as the new National Ports Policy that I launched in March 2013. For example the National Ports Policy's designation of Shannon-Foynes Port, Dublin Port and the Port of Cork as Ports of National Significance (Tier One) and Rosslare Europort and the Port of Waterford as Ports of National Significance (Tier Two) mirror the TEN-T designations of these ports as Core and Comprehensive ports on the TEN-T network. These designations are then taken into account by the National Transport Authority and the National Roads Authority when decisions are being made in terms of future planning.

Other policy work is ongoing in my Department and I expect to publish two significant new transport policy papers in 2014. An aviation policy is now approaching completion while in relation to land transport, work is ongoing on a strategic framework for investment in land transport. Both the framework for investment and the aviation policy will help clarify transport priorities and will help to ensure that there is appropriate co-ordination and integration between the various modes. In a similar vein, the National Transport Authority have a statutory remit to develop an integrated transport plan for the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) and I will soon be launching the NTA’s Integrated Implementation Plan which sets out their programme of investment and development in the Greater Dublin Area for the next five years.

Aviation Issues

Questions (262)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

262. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the degree to which national and international airports here can interlink with global transport with a view to maximising passenger throughput through competitiveness, efficiency and accessibility and with consequent benefit to the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15641/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

This question relates to Ireland's connectivity in the global market. As an island nation, with a peripheral location, access infrastructure is of vital strategic importance to the Irish economy. Irish airports have a critical role in supporting economic development by facilitating trade, tourism and inward investment. Foreign direct investment continues to be a key driver of the Irish economy and the proximity of a well connected airport continues to be an essential factor when a multinational company decides on location. Recognition of the importance of connectivity to the Irish economy was one of the main reasons this Government prioritised the cutting of the air travel tax to zero. This action, which was announced as part of Budget 2014 and came into effect yesterday was designed to generate additional air capacity and services to Ireland for the business and tourism sectors. I am very pleased to see there has already been a very positive response to this announcement. Both Irish and foreign airlines announced 34 new routes/services at Irish airports for the 2014 season. My focus as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport is to encourage airlines and our airports to generate even more direct air services into Ireland in the years ahead.

Sports Capital Programme Administration

Questions (263, 264)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

263. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the determination of major capital sports grants in the current year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15642/14]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

264. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which his Department continues to evaluate the need for the promotion and development of sporting and recreational facilities throughout the country with a view to ensuring a fair and equitable distribution of such facilities and with particular reference to the need to encourage more young persons to participate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15643/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 263 and 264 together.  

I assume that the Deputy is referring to the Sports Capital Programme. I was delighted to launch the 2014 round of the Sports Capital Programme earlier this year. €40 million is available for allocations. This is a clear recognition of the need for new and improved sporting facilities in every county.  

The application period closed on Monday 10 March. The applications will first be checked by officials in the Department to see if they are valid and then assessed against criteria that are designed to give higher scores to applications that will increase participation, where facilities will be shared, that are from designated disadvantaged areas, that have not received funding in the past and are ready to be progressed as soon as possible.   

I will announce the allocations as soon as possible after the assessment process has been completed later this year.