As an Island, accessibility is a major focus and I am constantly seeking to ensure that synergies between transport, tourism and sport are exploited to improve access to the country, enhance competitiveness and also create job opportunities. My Department’s Mission Statement is to ensure that the transport, tourism and sport sectors make the greatest possible contribution to economic recovery, fiscal consolidation, job creation and social development. In a separate reply to a Parliamentary Question by the Deputy today, I have set out the measures in place to ensure the integration and coordination between land, air and sea transport so that all contribute to the achievement of the mission statement.
I published my priorities for 2014 on my Department’s website earlier this year. It can be seen from these priorities, and from priorities set out and achieved in the previous 3 years, that linkages and opportunities between the transport, tourism and sports sectors are identified and exploited.
In tourism this year, we will build on the achievements of 2013 and focus on increasing visitor numbers to Ireland. The latest CSO figures show very strong growth in revenue from overseas visitors last year and confirm that tourism is playing a significant role in Ireland’s economic recovery and has directly contributed to the maintenance and creation of new jobs in the tourism sector over 2013. I plan to build on this and am aiming to grow visitor numbers by 4% and tourism revenue by 8% over 2014. There will be a strong focus on sports tourism and outdoor tourism with the Giro d’Italia, Croke Park Classic and the Wild Atlantic Way.
As of yesterday, the Government delivered on its commitment to reduce the air travel tax to zero. The commitment was based on airlines being willing to increase capacity on our key access routes. The airlines have responded with new flights into Ireland and increased capacity on existing routes.
My priorities also include a new motorway in the West, commencement of works on the Luas Cross City Project, laying the foundations for our bid for the Rugby World Cup, starting on the National Indoor Arena at the National Sports Campus in Dublin, and making new allocations for facilities and equipment under the Sports Capital Programme.
My Department has inputted to the development of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs and we will ensure that we deliver on our commitments within it. In developing the Action Plan, the Government is taking not just a short term view of job creation but is also laying the foundation for structures that facilitate and support longer term sustainable job creation opportunities. My Department is doing likewise.
Question No. 270 answered with Question No. 260.