Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Questions (627)

Marc MacSharry


627. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the fact Dublin Port plans to ban cruise ships in the port from 2020; the analysis his Department has undertaken in terms of loss of tourists and revenue to Dublin as a result; the way in which he can reconcile such action against national objectives in growing tourism to Dublin and all of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29479/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I am of course aware of the decision taken by Dublin Port Company to restrict its cruise shipping capacity from 2021-2023, rather than ban cruise ships, owing to the impact of major construction works on berth availabilities.  I am keen where possible to help mitigate any adverse impacts on the cruise tourism industry.  With these concerns in mind, I first met with Dublin Port Company on this issue in March, when the Company outlined its capital development plans and rationale for prioritisation in the context of Brexit, as well as the specifics with regard to cruise berths.  In my engagements with Dublin Port Company, I have always emphasised the need for it to take account of the broader impact of its commercial decisions. This includes the effect on sectors supporting the cruise tourism industry or serving cruise visitors, not just in Dublin but in other ports and associated regions around Ireland.

I have since held further, positive meetings with key stakeholders, including Dublin Port Company, and representatives of other ports, the tourism agencies and other industry stakeholders.  These meetings have assisted the relevant bodies to consider the options available that could help mitigate any potential negative impacts on the cruise industry and Irish tourism during the period of construction work.

Through my wider stakeholder engagements, I have encouraged port and cruise industry stakeholders to take maximum advantage of other options available during the period of construction at Dublin port.  While Dublin Port is important in attracting cruise liners to Ireland through Dublin, other benefits can accrue to other ports around our coast.   To this end the Port of Cork, Dun Laoghaire Harbour and Belfast Harbour are considering how they can take some of the additional business that may be lost as a result of Dublin Port's infrastructural works. 

Fáilte Ireland continues to support the development and promotion of the cruise tourism sector and assists with the visitor welcome at Dublin Port.  I understand that they have completed survey research amongst cruise tourism passengers.  This analysis has been shared with the economic advisers working on behalf of Dublin Port Company for input into their deliberations in respect of future investment in cruise shipping capacity at the Port.  Tourism Ireland is supporting the Port of Cork and the Port of Belfast, to assist them with their programmes overseas, and is actively engaging with Cruise Ireland regarding marketing initiatives that could be pursued jointly overseas.

My officials continue to monitor developments on this matter, together with both tourism agencies.  Given these ongoing efforts to disperse business across other ports, it remains to be seen what the ultimate impact the construction work at Dublin Port will have on overall cruise business.