Private Members' Business. - Tourism Industry: Motion (Resumed).

The following motion was moved by Deputy Andrews on Wednesday, 5 June 1996:
That Dáil Éireann calls on the Minister for Tourism and Trade to:
—take action to promote more even growth in tourist numbers and income in the regions and in the off-peak season;
—to ensure that available finances and resources are no longer employed to further exacerbate regional imbalances;
—to develop marketing strategies which place more emphasis on quality and income generation than on numbers;
—to initiate and support integrated development at local level which will achieve sustained growth in tourism income;
—to address the lack of co-ordination of State and other grant-aiding agencies involved in tourism.
and urges the setting up of a national co-ordinated manpower development plan for training in the area of services to tourism.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after "Dáil Éireann" and substitute the following:—
"notes the exceptional performance of the tourism sector in 1995 in terms of foreign revenue earnings and visitor numbers and the substantial growth in tourism in all subregions of the country in recent years; and calls on the Minister for Tourism and Trade to continue to pursue, in association with the industry, a range of policy measures in the product development, marketing and training areas designed to assist in the achievement of the targets set for sustainable growth in the industry under the EU Operational Programme for Tourism, 1994-99."
—(Minister of State at the Department of Tourism and Trade, Deputy O'Sullivan.)

I wish to refer specifically to the area of cultural tourism because as Fianna Fáil spokesperson for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht I have a particular interest in that matter. The Operational Programme for Tourism 1994-99 sets out as one of its priorities the further development of natural and cultural tourism.The National Development Plan 1994-99 identified the traditional strengths of Irish tourism as its people, scenery, cultural heritage, environmental quality and world-wide ethnic links. In its review of the 1988-93 period, it identified the development of inland waterways, the investment in 16 new theme town projects, two new literary museums, 65 houses and castles newly opened and improved, and other heritage attractions as being among the core achievements of the programme to date. I am sure all of us would agree that it is important to review these programmes to ensure the best possible long-lasting value for money is achieved for not only tourism but culture, which will attract further tourists.

About £22 million is available for the cultural incentives development scheme, designed to put in place the arts, heritage and cultural infrastructure to serve the needs for the future. The total spend for national cultural tourism is estimated at around £125 million over the extent of the programme. What has it meant for heritage and culture generally? Many arts and heritage people would say in terms of cultural infrastructure what we got was a series of glitzy projects which provided poor value and may well give rise to headaches.

We need to talk about a co-ordinated approach to cultural infrastructure. There is no strategy at present. In the past, funding allocations depended on the applications received and on the ingenuity, planning and clout of individuals and communities. Some of these projects are very good but all applications for funding should be assessed in the context of a regional and county arts and heritage policy which identifies strengths and weaknesses. Projects should include long-term goals that will serve arts, heritage and tourism well for a long time to come. We need living centres at the heart of communities which keep the arts and heritage vibrant and alive. That is what will energise those communities and enthral the visitor.

We must have good leisure and sports facilities for visitors, they come for something different. Our communities need centres which will encourage the arts, and local culture and which will protect and celebrate local heritage. The local people must be invited to participate and their energy harnessed. Ireland is not rich enough and its population is too small to have stand alone single-function tourist attractions which cannot have other uses. Such places have no heart; either they are cold and peripheral to living culture and heritage because they have become peripheral to local life or they have a poor employment record and often offer little chance of good jobs in the long-term. Many people involved in such jobs have to depend on FÁS schemes to survive rather than on long-term full-time jobs.

We are lucky to have landscape, archaeology, music, genealogy, an astonishing prehistory and general history, architecture, gardens and inland waterways. We have warmth and welcome, craic, and the session. We have extraordinary literary and artistic talent. Visitors should be able to interact in all of these areas in as natural a way as possible, and will resist us packaging it and presenting it in a plastic way. They want to see our heritage in context rather than trying to make it look like some kind of Disneyland. Since Ireland has all the natural ingredients where heritage and culture is concerned they must be developed in a sensitive way as that is what the tourist seeks.

It is only in the context of a proper national and regional arts and heritage strategy that we can value, celebrate and energise what we have. We do not want this to be presented in a plastic or stage Irish way. Art centres, museums and specialised heritage centres offer a chance for a living community to celebrate a living culture and heritage. Culture and heritage can be relieved and rediscovered because they are rooted in tradition, solid research and development and in people who draw on their talents to explore a story and to tell it.

I have been told that many centres have been developed from a computer programme of a foreign design team. This is not the way to proceed. I am told such a programme can be used anywhere. This is short-term thinking in terms of cultural policy and tourism generally because what the tourists come to see is something indigenous, not something bland which can be translated for any other culture.

Immense sums have been spent on design and display in some centres but little has been done in the area of primary research or on a collection of archival material and artefacts which would regenerate and invigorate any display and allow unlimited potential for development. Ireland has all the natural ingredients; it has the tremendous architecture, the archaeology, the artefacts and history. It is a question of being able to present that in the most acceptable form in its proper context. In talking about the heritage of a town, for example, one cannot by any stretch of the imagination ignore the town or its history. That is why I referred earlier to computer programmes, which do not have any real long-term part to play in what Ireland can offer culturally. It is not what the tourist seeks.

Many of the Irish heritage professionals have despaired at the small number of centres which have not come up to scratch. It is disappointing because there are some excellent examples, such as the Foxford Woollen Mills, County Mayo, which connects with its environment. It has a unique history and is well researched and linked to a living mill project.

Bord Fáilte should market the product "Ireland" but we should be careful that we know the product and how we want to present, preserve and celebrate it. Ireland's tourism policy must be conservation driven. If we do not preserve what we have and allow it to flower as it is, we will turn it into something plastic and shallow which will not be worth experiencing. We need to plan for the future. Having a strategy for arts and heritage will create its own dynamic and will ultimately serve the nation and the tourism industry.

In many ways sitting down to write a speech about tourism and seasonality is extremely difficult. I do not know from where Fianna Fáil gets its motions for Private Members' Business but it would appear it simply trawls over old files and complaints it had while in Government and decides on a particular one. The problem of seasonality in Ireland and in the European context is long standing. If we were to look sensibly at the weather in Ireland the problem of seasonality would be glaringly obvious, yet it is difficult to write about it. How does one attract people to a country which for eight months of the year is damp, cold, unpredictable and blustery? It is a huge problem and must be tackled if we are to benefit in full from tourism. Nevertheless it is a problem which for most of the time is outside our control. We do not have the type of historical infrastructure that would attract people to, say, Italy. We do not have the type of history that has stayed intact to a great extent. What we have is unique in many ways because our history has been a bloody one. We were either fighting off invaders who came to destroy what we had put in place or we were fighting ourselves and in the process destroyed what had been put in place. In that respect we are unique and seem to have an unique place on the map of most tourist promoters.

I welcome the five-year plan and investment in the development of weather independent facilities. We have at last come to recognise what we have. We are unique. We have a past which is worth examining and a market which has not yet been fully developed but we are working on it and in time it will prove fruitful.

Even if our cities are not to become like all other European cities — we can never compete with Paris and Rome — we can compete with others. If we continue to put money into conference centres, which are no more than an imitation of conference centres in other areas, sports complexes or weather independent facilities, why should people come to Ireland? We must continue to build on what is unique about Ireland but that is difficult to define. One can go through the list as Deputy de Valera did. In respect of the green environment, the Green Party from Germany would come only for the purpose of looking at what is wrong with our green environment rather than to appreciate what is right about it. It depends on where one is coming from and who is brought here. If we go along with our cultural development, revisionism has its place and there are people who will find that it is not all as we present it.

It would appear that what is unique to us is our way of life which does not lend itself well to organisation. I have in mind our leisure life. What is attractive to tourists about how we spend our leisure time is the fact that it is spontaneous and unorganised. We continue by way of law and legislation to demand that it changes and becomes more organised. I am not certain how that can be packaged.

We are unique in that for generations we were the surrogate mother to Europe and the rest of the world. It is estimated that there are 40 million people connected by way of birth to Ireland. We have tapped that market to some extent but we have not tapped into it completely. How can you compete with going to look for your grandmother's grave or your great-grandmother's grave? That uniqueness should be played on for all it is worth. Most Americans do not have a history but those Americans who are of Irish descent do have a history and we should encourage them to come and find it.

Dublin is becoming the weekend capital of Europe. We must ensure that anyone who comes to Dublin for a weekend comes back for a second. Cork is a city which people visit not only for weekends. While they plan for a weekend they find it extremely difficult to leave because of its friendliness, its atmosphere and the uniqueness of its people. I am confident that with a Minister of State of the calibre of Deputy O'Sullivan in the Department we will continue to build on it. We have a heritage project in place which will be awesome, as described by one architect, in the centre of the city. Cork is known as a city of manageable size and that is the reason it is good at putting on festivals.

There is one aspect of what we provide for tourists that we have never adequately examined, that is, the whole pub culture. The pub culture in Ireland attracts young backpackers. They may not spend much when they come as 17, 18 and 19 years olds but they will return. When they return they will have money and will spend it. We should work on being friendly, open and welcoming to ensure they return. Most Europeans go out to dinner at 8 p.m. — unlike the Irish who may go to dinner at 6 p.m. — and do not finish until 10 p.m. They then find themselves in the peculiar position of being in a pub at 10.30 p.m. which closes at 11 p.m. and they are astonished at this. We should examine our licensing hours and consider having them staggered. There are pubs that are required to open and bring in staff at a certain time in the knowledge that there is no business and that they will have no customers. We should examine a system of staggered opening hours. Opening hours would not be extended. Pubs would still only be required to open for the same number of hours but districts would decide the hours they would open. As with marketing licences which still exist in certain cities, there could be a pub whose business would be from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and it would simply open for those hours. Another pub, because it is situated within a shopping area, would open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Another pub would open from 10 p.m. to cater for the after dinner brigade, to 3 a.m. In this way people could not, as many fear, skip from one pub to the next for 24 hours of the day. It is beyond me how one could afford it or how one's liver could stand up to it. If this was done district by district we could ensure that no matter when tourists or our own people wanted to go for a drink there would be a district where they could get it. In this way pubs would cater for tourists and the whole culture in that area. At harbours or airports where people are coming and going late at night, this would be the perfect solution.

We must look at what is unique to us and the 40 million people out there who desperately wish to make a connection with someone and to have a tangible link with Ireland. We must put more money into that area. We must look into the whole pub culture and our disorganised lifestyle in relation to leisure which attracts young and middle aged people to this country. We must ensure that remains as it is with some improvements in order that they are not totally excluded from it.

As a member of the Dublin Tourism Board, I wish to speak on the growth of tourism in Dublin, which has been phenomenal since 1988. This success can be attributed to a number of factors. In 1988 Dublin celebrated its millennium and the positive coverage of events during that year increased people's awareness, particularly in Europe, of Dublin as a tourist destination. In 1991, during my time as Lord Mayor of Dublin, the city was designated European City of Culture and the main event that year was the opening of the Temple Bar refurbishment scheme which received substantial European Union funding.

The cultural acclaim Dublin received for films such as "The Commitments" and "My Left Foot" instilled a pride in our people. Groups such as U2, Boyzone and performers such as Chris de Burgh generated an awareness of Dublin's music culture. Among other things the significant growth in interest from high profile overseas visitors in recent years, cuch as the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, Prince Charles, Tom Cruise, Julie Roberts and others helped to raise Dublin's profile.

One of the reasons for increased tourism business is the direct access to Dublin Airport from North America which has resulted in an increase in airline passengers to Dublin. The introduction of new vessels on the Irish Sea, such as theIsle of Inisfree by Irish Ferries and the HSS Explorer by Sealink, has doubled capacity on the sea route into Dublin. A total of 15 new hotels are currently under construction in Dublin and a further 25 are at planning or post-planning stages. These developments are creating a boom in employment in the city's construction industry. It is estimated that within three years the number of hotels in Dublin will have doubled and there will be a much needed increase in employment as a result of tourism. In Howth, hotel extensions have been built and several new restaurants have been opened to cater for the additional tourists visiting Howth peninsula.

In the past two years the number of tourists to Dublin has increased by in excess of 40 per cent. Dublin has the highest level of bed occupancy in Europe, it has more bed nights than Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Vienna. The accommodation overflow from Dublin spreads up and down the east coast. On "Morning Ireland" today the manager of Dublin Tourism said that visitors to Dublin on a recent weekend had to be offered accommodation in Monaghan.

If this growth is to be maintained we must be conscious of the obstacles that may hinder tourism in Dublin. Today'sIrish Independent carries an article interviewing visitors to Dublin from Europe who commented on the amount of litter on our streets and traffic congestion. I welcome the new anti-litter campaign initiated by the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Howlin, to improve awareness and gain public support for an anti-litter war. The introduction of the Luas light rail system will benefit tourists as well as commuters.

Many tourists have commented on the impact of children begging in city centre streets. As child benefit has increased by 60 per cent since 1993 there is no longer any justification for children begging on the streets. It is estimated that there are between 12 and 15 families involved in begging in the centre of the city and they are well known to the Eastern Health Board. This problem must be addressed for the sake of the children who are being exploited.

With peace on this island and much effort all round we have the potential to become a great country for tourists. However, although we often talk as if we have worked wonders, we have not come anywhere near realising that potential. We have only kept pace with the increase in international tourism. If we eliminate ethnic and roots tourism, we have made only very modest progress, despite what the Minister of State correctly described as the exceptional performance last year.

My main concern is with tourism progress in the north west, a region which, despite its natural attractions has failed to realise its true potential, perhaps even more than any other part of the country. While its geographic location may be the main reason for this, comparative peace in the North and significant improvements in road access should eliminate some of the major geographical disadvantages for that area. With modest encouragement from the Minister, the tourism industry in the north west could be transformed in a short period. We are not asking for anything exceptional. We merely want some measures that would embellish the natural attractions of the area. We welcomed the £50,000 the Minister provided last week for the Sligo walkway through some of the most scenic parts of the county. The route stretches from Lough Talt in my native parish to Lough Easkey and on to Collooney and Ballygawley, linking the walkways of Mayo and Leitrim.

We should concentrate on our natural advantages, such as walking, golfing, horse riding and other activity sports and our archaeological heritage. A recent survey reveals that Sligo is the richest county in monuments and sites, with a staggering 4,500 listed in the survey. There is the potential tourist attraction of Knocknashee Hill Fort, located in the south of the county. Although that is the third largest hill fort in the country it is not signposted and does not have a path to the top, neither has it been declared a national monument. These matters must be tackled.

The Minister knows that the essential attraction in the west is its people and their houses — the smoke from the chimneys, the vernacular architecture. I have always maintained that agriculture could keep a certain basic level of population in rural areas, but I am no longer confident of that. While I accept that demographic patterns are not the main concern of the Minister for Tourism and Trade or his Minister of State, the population of the west impinges significantly on their efforts to promote tourism. The Government could take many initiatives to ensure that good housing stock, once vacated through emigration or death, is made available to other families. The Minister showed great imagination in designating traditional seaside resorts, such as Enniscrone. Something should also be done about the houses that are being deserted in rural areas and I have put forward ideas in that regard.

We have also failed to make proper use of some of our regional airports and in this regard I refer in particular to Sligo and Carrickfinn airports which could be targeted for incoming chartered flights. I do not know where the blame lies for this failure, but someone should be packaging tours in, say, the British midlands, for people to visit the west and north west for golfing, fishing, horse riding and so on, using Sligo and Carrickfinn airports.

The Minister must address the problem of the high cost of car hire, which adversely affects tourism in the north west. At this morning's meeting of the Select Committee on Finance and General Affairs I asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, in advance of the millennium, to take up the artefacts on the wreck of theSpanish Armands in Streedagh Strand. The largest collection of artefacts — including 59 cannons — ever found around our coast have been lying on that wreck for the past ten years. The Minister should set up a museum in Sligo to house those artefacts, which could be a great attraction for visitors to Sligo.

I accept the Minister of State's excellent speech about the balanced distribution of investment and the added value of tourism, particularly in rural parishes. We must concentrate on that type of tourism. I ask him to pay special attention to the north west, where there is great tourism potential, which has not yet been realised.

Ba mhaith liom mo chuid ama a roinnt leis an Teachta Ring. Tá áthas orm go bhfuil deis agam labhairt ar an ábhar tábhachtach seo. Aont aíonn gach duine ón Aire Stáit go dtí gach duine a labhair anseo aréir agus inniu ar thábhacht na turasóireachta do eacnamaíocht na tíre. Ní amháin go gcuireann sé teacht isteach ar fáil ach cuireann sé fostaíocht ar fáil fosta. Is í an turasóireacht ceann de na tionscail is mó atá ag forbairt faoi láthair agus tá súil againn go leanfaidh sí ar aghaidh mar sin. Caithfimid gach iarracht a dhéanamh i ngach áit sa tír an oiread agus is féidir a bhaint amach aisti, daoine a chur ag obair agus fostaíocht a chothú.

I listened with interest to Deputies Nealon and Kenny and I agree that tourism is booming. Statistics indicate, however, that there is a national imbalance in tourism. Deputy Kenny mentioned the attractions of Dublin, which is becoming the tourism capital of Europe. People from the United Kingdom and other European countries come here for short breaks and weekends and have a very enjoyable few days.

I read this morning in one of the papers about two families who visited Ireland around Easter. One, a German family, on arriving in Dublin hired a car and travelled to the south Cork-Kerry area and back through Kilkenny and Glendalough. The second family arrived in Shannon and did the same circuit. That is an indication that regions such as the west, particularly the north-west, are not benefiting from tourism like the rest of Ireland. It is coincidental that those two cases were referred to in this morning'sIrish Independent. Both families concentrated on the same part of the country, as if the north-west or Donegal did not exist.

The latest figures available, backed by the Central Statistics Office, show that in 1994 total tourist receipts for the north-west region — Donegal, Sligo-Leitrim and Cavan-Monaghan — amounted to £191 million. In 1995 there was an increase in tourism nationally, but in the north-west tourist receipts were down to £165 million, a significant reduction. The reason for that reduction relates to the troubles in the past 25 years in Northern Ireland, as a result of which potential tourists from the rest of the country avoided the north-west. They associate it with Northern Ireland, as do many international tourists. Therefore, we were over-dependent on northern tourists. As a result of the peace process, which we all welcome and hope will continue, the entire country will benefit. A short-term difficulty has been created, however, in that fewer Northern Ireland tourists, on whom we have been dependent for so long, are visiting the area. Instead they are exploring their own region, resulting in a downturn in the number of tourists in the north-west. That is not noticeable but the figures do not lie.

To counteract the problem we must undertake a more aggressive marketing campaign for the north-west. It must be marketed as an attractive place. We have as much, if not more, to offer than any other part of Ireland and people who visit the area always return. We must also improve access to the north-west. People visiting other parts of Ireland think that Donegal is at the North Pole. It is possible, however, to reach any part of Donegal from Dublin in three or four hours — it is as easy to travel from Dublin to Donegal as to travel from Dublin to Kerry.

Deputy Nealon referred to airports. I welcome the initiative taken by the Minister recently in granting £300,000 to Carrickfin airport, Donegal. That money will help to market and promote not only that airport but the entire region. Last year £100,000 was allocated to the area, and Deputy Coughlan had the good grace to welcome it. When there is good news, support from every side of the House is appreciated. It is important that the regional imbalance in tourism be addressed.

I wish to share two minutes of my time with Deputy Creed.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I am glad to have the opportunity to speak on this motion. It is a pity Fianna Fáil did not put it down when in Government——

We discussed it but the Deputy was not here at the time.

——before the Structural Funds were unevenly allocated, with much funding being provided for the east coast while the west was forgotten.

I congratulate the Minister and Minister of State on the wonderful job they are doing in this area. Last year was a record year for tourism. Earlier in the year I referred to the low number of tourists visiting the west, and I was proven right at the end of the year. I hope Deputy Hughes, who castigated me at the time, will have the decency to apologise to me this morning.

There is much talk about Dublin. Two weeks ago my wife and I visited a restaurant in Temple Bar — an area for which tax breaks are given — but when I received the bill there was an extra charge of £3.50, for food. Since the meal was not very good I was annoyed at the extra charge. When I inquired what the £3.50 was for I was told it was a service or house charge. I objected to the fact that the bill indicated that the £3.50 was for food and said I would report it to the Minister — I will give him the name of the restaurant because I want him to take up the matter. If that is the way people are treated it is no wonder we have great difficulty attracting tourists. The Minister should deal with the issue of service charges. People visiting restaurants and hotels should be charged only for accommodation, food or whatever, and if they wish to give a tip it should be at their discretion.

People involved in the tourist trade should be pleasant to tourists because we want them to return. They should not think only about the current year and the quick buck.

The Westport, Mulranny and Achill areas are great tourist destinations. Announcements were made about that area in the past 12 months and I hope the Minister will announce the opening of the Westport leisure centre in the near future. It is time the west got its share of tourists and I intend to ensure we succeed in that regard. For too long money was allocated to other areas while the west was neglected. At a recent conference in Dublin many of the people attending did not know where the west coast is. Bord Fáilte should concentrate on promoting the west. I regret I do not have more time because I have much more to say on this matter.

I wish to make two brief points. Voluntary organisations play a very significant role in promoting tourism in their local areas. It has come to my attention recently that tourist information offices under the aegis of Bord Fáilte insist that literature promoting tourist attractions without the Board Fáilte stamp of approval will not be displayed in those offices. I hope the Minister will take up this point as a plethora of attractions developed with the assistance of State funds will be excluded from promotion by these offices.

Under the Operational Programme funding was available for small hotels in rural areas. This funding is now exhausted and the Minister should go back to the Commission and seek additional funding under this heading. Funding for accommodation and leisure facilities for smaller hotels under Measure 5 of the Operational Programme can deliver great benefits and stimulate investment in areas which will otherwise have to struggle to gain their rightful share. I thank Deputy Ring and the other Deputies for being so tolerant of my incursion into their time.

I wish to share my time with Deputies Morley and Coughlan.

Acting Chairman

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I congratulate my colleagues on tabling this motion at the commencement of the peak tourist season and I extend an invitation to the Minister of State, Deputy O'Sullivan, to visit Westport again. I was glad to see him and his wife there two years ago.

Mr. O'Sullivan

I was also there last year.

Some members of his party, including Deputy Bell, visit the west. I hope it does not go unnoticed that most of the contributors to the debate represent constituencies along the western seaboard from Donegal to Kerry which have become increasingly dependent on tourism because of migration, emigration and the failure of the Government to provide industrial and service type jobs. When the agricultural and mineral extraction industries closed down in the Caribbean countries the tourism industry became very important. Similarly, tourism is becoming increasingly important in the west. We must ensure that the tourism product is evenly spread throughout the regions and that there is an unapologetic bias in favour of the west and those areas which have not experienced a sustainable level of tourism growth.

There must also be a bias in favour of the west in terms of grant aid. Some years ago there was an increase in the level of hotel accommodation built in Dublin and the leaders in the industry wondered if all of it would be filled. We now see that there is increased demand — there are still many projects in the pipeline — and that bed and breakfast owners in Dublin can charge the same rate as top class hotels in the west. Under the operational programme introduced by the then Fianna Fáil Government there was an even spread of tourism benefits and no regionalisation in terms of the allocation of grant aid. The time has come for a bias in favour of those areas which have the potential to build up the tourism product and sustain an increasing number of visitors. In recent months there has been much reference to areas which have too many visitors and the Minister now has an opportunity to do something about this issue. There are many other points I would like to make.

I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate. As my time is limited I will concentrate on the main proposal in the motion, that is to ensure that available finances and resources are no longer employed to further exacerbate regional imbalances.

Tourism is unquestionably our strongest growing industry and it is predicted to continue growing until the year 2000 and beyond. It is a very important element in the economy of all developing and developed countries, particularly Ireland. Nowhere in Ireland is tourism more crucially important than in the west and, in particular, County Mayo. All the official reports and plans, including the National Development Plan and the recently published Western Development Partnership Board plan, tell us that tourism is the main hope for the development of employment in the west in the future. Yet there is a clear regional imbalance in the spread of tourism benefits throughout the regions. A recent report published by the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation states:

Recent research carried out on behalf of the ITIC indicated that tourism is growing faster in the eastern regions than in the west so the benefits of tourism growth are not being spread equitably.

Other reports bear out these findings. The report goes on to state that the Government must decide if sufficient infrastructure is in place to cope with further expansion. This, in turn, poses questions about how the tourism industry can move more of its business into areas such as the west, particularly County Mayo, which are still underdeveloped in the tourism sense but which have great potential. This cannot be done without greater EU and Government assistance and, if one is to judge from the performance to date, there is little sign of this assistance.

The industry is being allowed to proceed at two speeds, a fast speed in the east and a slow speed in the west. Far from achieving convergence, the stated intention of Cohesion and Structural Funding, this process, if allowed to continue, will put tourism in the west at a further disadvantage rather than help it to catch up. It seems that Cohesion and Structural Funding has been directed towards those areas which are already well established in the tourism field by assisting the provision of ever more sophisticated tourism products, while the more underdeveloped areas in the west cannot get assistance to provide basic facilities.

Reports state that there is a need to increase accommodation by 50 per cent in County Mayo if it is to cater for the number of visitors expected to visit the county by the year 2000. Yet no grants are available for the provision of accommodation in County Mayo. I am informed that 40 of the 90 hotels due to be erected in the next few years and past the planning stage will be in Dublin and the surrounding environs. Recently a relatively modest development in Knock which would have catered for 100 people was turned down in court because of the inadequacy of the sewerage system. Mayo County Council submitted an application for the upgrading of this system to the Department of the Environment some time ago but it is still awaiting approval. If the Government is interested in the development of the west it should give the go-ahead to this and other small schemes. It should also give financial support to small and family owned hotels in the region to encourage them to develop and expand. The development of such infrastructure is necessary if tourism in the west is to reach its potential and be the economic salvation of those areas which experts predict it will be.

The tourists who visit Knock may be regarded as a joke by some of the mandarins who monitor and direct the development of the tourism industry, but more than one million people visit this location every year. These visitors are important not only to the local economy but to the wider area. There cannot be a regional balance in the industry without Government and ministerial action. I acknowledge the recent assistance given by the Government to improve the lighting system at Knock Airport. I commend the Minister, Deputy Kenny, for including western tourism locations in the recently designated tax areas and invite the Minister of State to visit Knock Airport which has great potential to assist the development of tourism in the west. I urge the Minister and Bord Fáilte to take cognisance of that fact.

I was pleased to hear my party spokesman, Deputy Andrews, suggest yesterday that greater efforts should be undertaken to promote tourist traffic into airports outside Dublin. I am sure that the management of Knock International Airport would be only too pleased to facilitate the Minister and Bord Fáilte in that respect. There was much criticism on the part of those in the west of a recent Bord Fáilte publication entitled "Ireland — A Romantic Blend" in which there was no mention of the Céide Fields or the Foxford Woollen Mills, to say nothing of the fact that flight schedules from Britain to Knock international Airport were incomplete.

Perhaps Members should engage in the marketing of tourism for their respective regions. We could all speak about the attractions of our constituencies, about the huge regional imbalances, even between Dublin city centre and greater Dublin area.

A number of issues need to be examined. We speak about the diversity of the product, yet I have noticed that many who diversified into new types of product and accommodation have discovered they do not fit into the ordinary categories of accommodation and experience enormous registration difficulties. The very fact that we have such a diversity of product is something that needs to be examined urgently.

We have invested much money in marketing our tourist attractions and have reaped some of the benefits but we must concentrate on those specific products we have to market. There has been an increase in the numbers of backpackers and other young visitors and although some facilities are provided for them others are needed. Many people in the mainstream trade are very annoyed that there is no knock-on benefit from these young visitors. Nonetheless, we should encourage them because in ten or 15 years time when they get a job and have some money to spend they may return.

We have not really targeted young professionals, those with a few extra pounds to spend who can afford to pay for hotel accommodation. At the same time, I am afraid that we may price ourselves out of the market. It is expensive to go out for a meal and purchase a bottle of wine compared with prices in other European countries. While we have the quality product, we need to reexamine our price structures. There is an insufficient variety of restaurants here. There is need for a middle niche market in which there is much potential. People should be encouraged to invest in that type of restaurant and ancillary facilities.

We have a problemvis-à-vis accommodation. Each year we debate the fact that there is no grant aid for accommodation and that there is an imbalance in some regions while others need to be targeted. Somebody will have to take very difficult political decisions and target areas where accommodation needs to be upgraded, in addition to ascertaining how many bednights are available within the industry in the west and northwest. The reality is that we have insufficient, particularly to facilitate tour operators.

Training is another vital issue. We cannot have an industry without adequate training. Having worked in the Hotel College in Killybegs, I know that much money has been invested in training. Hoteliers, restaurateurs and those promoting tourism must encourage people to be re-trained consequent on the enormously changed system. The Minister should engage in some public relations exercise to encourage people to be re-trained in the off-season, or by way of in-house training similar to that provided by FÁS.

There should be an integrated approach to such grants as are available to assist the development of the industry. There has been much criticism of the plethora of agencies charged with the allocation of these grants in Border areas. We tend to give people false hope and encourage them to engage in tourism only to discover they are unable to develop a tourism product.

The Department of Tourism and Trade and Bord Fáilte will have to work hand in hand with the Department of the Environment in the provision of proper infrastructure and litter control. We must implement a cohesive package in our attempts to redress regional imbalance. Any investment in tourism must encompass infrastructure to allow access to the regions, one of our most serious problemsvis-à-vis regional imbalances.

With the permission of the House, I should like to share my time with Deputy McDaid.

This debate is timely and useful and will direct the attention of the Minister, his Department and those engaged in the industry to the need to ensure the balanced development of our tourism industry.

The motion before the House in the names of members of the Fianna Fáil Party, among other things, refers to the need to:

—take action to promote more even growth in tourist numbers and income in the regions and in the off-peak season;

—to ensure that available finances and resources are no longer employed to further exacerbate regional imbalances;

We are grateful that the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation report has highlighted the sudden change in the growth in tourism, showing exceptional levels of growth in the eastern region compared with those in western regions generally. It is appropriate that this anomaly be brought to the immediate attention of policy-makers so that they can ensure an even growth distribution.

For some years the tourism industry worldwide has been experiencing phenomenal growth. One might well question whether ours should not be faring better bearing in mind the vast numbers of international tourists who travel to London and the very small proportion of them who continue their journey here. That vast potential has remained untapped to date. This industry is of great importance to our economy, its benefits filtering down to the most remote rural areas. No other industry or investment the Government could sponsor would yield so much revenue for so many of our remote regions. We do not want to see that benefit siphoned off into an Irish tourism industry based in Dublin. That criticism could be levelled at the English tourism market since most if its visitors are attracted mainly to London, resulting in a huge imbalance there. We have been successful in maintaining growth in all our tourist regions. It is important that our tourism policy is directed at its continuance.

The Minister of State said that overall visitor numbers in 1995 reached a record high of 4,256,000. There is a danger of concentrating on such figures, for a number of reasons, the first being that we need to attract quality, high-spending tourists to sustain high quality, sustainable jobs for those employed in the industry. The industry's reputation as an employer has not been the best because of its vagaries. In order to improve the conditions of those employed in the industry, to create well remunerated, full-time, worth-while career opportunities, we need to attract a higher level of tourist spender rather than concentrate on augmenting tourist numbers, which appears to be the trend from the Minister's remarks.

Tourism is a two-way business and, while there are those engaged in attracting foreign visitors, here, there are other promoters selling foreign holidays to Irish people. This means that Irish people are participating in this phenomenal worldwide growth in tourism. It is important to point out that, as net revenue earners from tourism and travel, we are faring worse now than in 1991.

When expenditure by Irish visitors abroad is put against the earnings from visitors to this country, the net revenue from tourism and travel amounted to a balance of £518 million in our favour in 1991. Unfortunately, in 1995 the net balance in favour of the Exchequer has dropped to £410 million. We must focus on the reality that our domestic market is losing out to foreign markets. The large numbers of Irish travelling abroad is countering the growth in revenue from visitors coming to this country to the extent that our position is declining. The relevant figures are produced in the Government Information Services tourism and travel quarterly publication for January-March 1996. This is worrying trend and it is disappointing that the Minister in his long speech did not refer to that development in the industry. It is one of the most significant developments and something to which the Government should direct its attention.

I am aware that a domestic market initiative has been taken. A total of £500,000 has been made available by the Government to increase the number of holidays Irish people take in Ireland. When one considers that the Irish who travel abroad on holidays spend £1.2 billion, one can see that the Government's contribution of £500,000 to promote domestic tourism is a paltry sum. Nobody seeks to stop people travelling abroad on holidays, but we must be more vigorous in promoting domestic holidays. The industry deserves that, particularly in view of the large investment made during the past number of years in new facilities, including the upgrading of hotels, guest-houses and the provision of new tourist amenities of a high standard right across the board, many of which are lying empty and grossly under-utilised for nine months of the year. There is a major opportunity to attract the Irish to holiday at home and to sample and enjoy those new facilities, which they have not experienced, rather than to take the plane to Spain or Portugal. Young people are more strongly attracted to sun holidays, but the middle-aged group have sampled them and there is great potential among that group to promote higher levels of growth in domestic tourism. It is necessary that we do so because, as net revenue earners from tourism and travel, we did much better in 1991 than in 1995.

I am confused about the new role for Údarás na Gaeltachta in promoting tourism in the Gaeltacht areas. I have had communication from the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht which was intended to clarify the matter, but it has left me more in the dark than I had been before I sought clarification. I ask the Minister of State to inform the House either today or at a later stage as to the distinction between the role of Board Fáilte and that of Údarás na Gaeltachta in promoting tourism in Gaeltacht areas.

There is a need to provide financial assistance to those who are prepared to upgrade their guest-houses, bed and breakfast accommodation and hotels, provided they are registered through the State registering system for official accommodation. I appeal to the Government to recognise that need and to meet it to increase the availability of facilities and the provision of a higher standard product through the continuous efforts to improve tourist facilities.

I thank Deputy Molloy for sharing time with me. I am glad to have the opportunity to make a brief contribution to this important debate. I am sure the House will forgive me if I concentrate my remarks on the position as it affects the northern half of the country, especially my county of Donegal where people depend heavily on tourism for their livelihoods. For as long as I can remember the marketing of tourism abroad has been concentrated almost entirely, as other Deputies said, on the lovely southern half of the country. It appears that somebody had drawn a line from Dublin to Galway and ordained that there would be minimal marketing north of that line. We are used to plane loads of travel agents being flown in from the United States and Europe and entertained in Dublin, Galway and Killarney. This year's Bord Fáilte European workship has been organised again in Killarney — previously it was held in Galway and Cork. Bord Fáilte produced a brochure on walking tours in Ireland and Donegal tourism interests had paid for an advertisement in that brochure but no mention of Donegal was included in its editoral content.

When I heard that foreign tourists went into a Bord Fáilte office in Dublin for information on Donegal and were told that it was handled by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, I thought that Dr. Paisley had annexed another part of Ulster. That did not surprise me in the least because I have met many Americans who thought that Donegal was one of the Six Counties. In recent months the tourism industry in Donegal has been organising its marketing having lost all patience with the lack of real effort by Bord Fáilte in Dublin to promote it.

In terms of the lack of promotion of tourism in Donegal from Dublin, there is one honourable and outstanding exception. I refer to the magnificent efforts down through the years by Gay Byrne on his radio and television programmes. If anyone deserves the title of honorary citizen of Donegal, it is he. Mr. Byrne has spent his holidays in the county for well over 30 years and has never tired of its beauty and the qualities of its people. Perhaps he is aware of the shortcomings of Bord Fáilte in promoting that area. I would like Gay Byrne to know that the people of Donegal have noted everything he has done and greatly appreciate his efforts. I have no doubt he has done more for Donegal than any State body. It is time that Bord Fáilte gave him a little help and we will be watching it carefully from now on.

I, too, am pleased to speak on this debate and I thank the Minister of State, Deputy O'Sullivan, for allowing me time to make a brief contribution.

Members may be surprised that I have a contribution to make to this debate, but I live in one of the most picturesque areas of the country in County Westmeath. It is the lake district of the country and a beautiful county with many excellent facilities, including lakes, fishing, cultural activities, equestrian facilities, bed and breakfast accommodation, hotels and golfing and pitch and putt facilities. Like Deputy McDaid, I would like somebody to promote the excellence of that county on the national radio. I welcome the contributions of other Deputies to this debate. We had a useful and wide-ranging debate on our national tourism performance and the prospects for the future. I was surprised that the motion was put down by the Opposition in these terms, but that is its prerogative.

Westmeath County Council, in partnership with the Midland-East Regional Tourism, is a promoter of the national freshwater centre of Belvedere in Mullingar. This large project, is intended as a flagship one for the midlands region and I am sure it will get the support of everybody. It will be located in the grounds of Belvedere House and gardens on the shores of Lough Ennell, some three miles south of Mullingar, which is bounded by the world renowned golf course. It will have a visitor centre incorporating an educational reception area, indoor water garden, audio visual theatre, art and mythology. Extensive development of the garden, parkland and shore is also intended. It is an excellent project and my colleague, Deputy McGrath, and I hope the development management board will give it the support and approval it deserves. This proposal would bring upwards of 100,000 visitors to that area and that is very important in terms of tourism.

Irish tourism is going through a period of unprecedented and sustained growth. The optimum support structures have been put in place in order to promote further development and the prospects for the future have never looked better. It might be useful to recapitulate on some of the key points that illustrate this success.

While the targets the Government has set for tourism are clearly ambitious, we are well on course towards achieving them. Ireland was the top performing tourism destination in Europe in 1995 with revenue growth of 12 per cent over 1994 compared with a European average of 2.3 per cent. All our main markets performed exceptionally well. Visitor numbers from Britain were up 13 per cent, from North America were up 30 per cent and from mainland Europe were up about 12 per cent. Job creation targets are also being met — this is very significant — and the sector is now estimated by Bord Fáilte to sustain 102,000 jobs, an increase of 50 per cent over the 1988 figure. Tourism will soon outstrip agriculture as the main provider of jobs in our economy.

Some opinions have been expressed on the subject of the regional imbalance. Contrary to this view, all regions have benefited from this growth, a point which was illustrated at length by the Minister of State. Deputy O'Sullivan, in his statement last night. Not only that, but the past and future strategy for tourism development takes full account of the need for regional development and provides a platform for each region to realise its potential. Indeed some of the programmes and measures that assist tourism projects, such as the pilot tax relief scheme for certain resort areas — we would love to benefit from this scheme in County Westmeath — IFI, INTERREG, and Leader programme and the agri-tourism scheme could, by their nature be said to be weighted in favour of regional development. This is important and is to be applauded.

The value of domestic tourism to the economy generally and to the regions in particular has not always been fully appreciated in the past and I am sure the House will agree that the initiative recently announced by the Minister of State, Deputy O'Sullivan, in this regard will prove extremely useful.

The restructuring of Bord Fáilte is well on course and its home marketing activities are being extensively supplemented by a total projected marketing spend of £125 million in the operational programme for tourism which will support a marketing campaign focused on improving seasonality and access, developing new markets, attracting high yield business and co-operative marketing on a product or geographical basis. The overseas tourism marketing initiative, which represents a unique partnership of Bord Fáilte, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, and the tourism industry North and South, is proving particularly successful in this regard.

New and improved arrangements have been put in place to ensure the optimum co-ordination between Government Departments and agencies involved in tourism development. Greater emphasis is also being put on manpower policy. Together with the other policies outlined by the various speakers in the debate, the framework is being put into place to ensure the planned development of a sustainable tourism industry into the next millenium. Obviously there is no room for complacency and perceived problems of regional imbalances as outlined must be addressed. It is nevertheless clear that not only can we realise our national tourism targets but that the conditions are there for each of the regions to realise its own potential. That is my hope for the midlands east region and for County Westmeath in particular.

I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak on this most important issue. I can say without fear of contradiction that I come from one of the most beautiful counties in Ireland. The scenery is spectacular and breathtaking in its variety and the inhabitants are second to none, as Members know.

Having been to Killarney and suffering from the adventure of finding a place to stay — I almost failed despite the fact that every second building seemed to be a guest house or a hotel — and having listened to a report on "Morning Ireland" this morning to the effect that there is no room left for visitors in Dublin, I am amazed at the failure to market Ireland as a whole.

Ireland is unique in what each county has to offer the tourist. Natural resources abound in every part of the country. We should not rely completely on a handful of locations to absorb the entire tourism market but, unfortunately, that seems to be how it is at present. If we get rid of regional imbalances we will have more accommodation available which in turn could lead to a growth in visitor numbers in areas at present devoid of real tourism. This would lead to a bigger income for all areas and more people would be involved. Everyone will be happy; the tourist, who has had an enjoyable holiday, the hotelier or person with whom the visitor stayed, the musicians or dancers who entertained the visitors, the shopkeepers, the companies which transported the visitors to and from the holiday destinations and so on.

What is going wrong for places such as north Donegal? Are such places too far removed from the main centres of population? Ireland is a relatively small island.

We could be reached throughout the year by cruise liners or yachts, but although cruise liners pass up the Foyle, for example — the passengers wave at us and we wave back at them as they go to Derry and back — and while hundreds of people are involved in yachting throughout the country and want a series of landing spots around the north coast, there is no commitment in real terms to repairing our many piers, although the Minister for the Marine has an interest in the development of small harbours.

We could have been reached by air, but what was done to keep the Jersey and European routes from Eglington, Derry, to Dublin in operation? We were not looking for a big investment; indeed it seems we did not look for any investment. We appreciate any help given to Carrickfin, but marketing has to be improved and include the whole of Donegal.

We could be reached by road but there are many deficiencies in road signs which could easily be improved by the tourism group if they were properly funded. However, the tourism section of Inishowen Leader II receives £40,000 per year and Action Inishowen is practically penniless. Even more serious is the fact that most of the beautiful coastal routes are in danger of disappearing due to coastal erosion, although we have been told there is funding available for this work. What will happen to tourism if our natural resources disappear? With a little investment it should be possible to improve our road network to places of interest such as Knock. The interest must be coherent and structured, however, as the many State bodies and agencies currently administering funding and marketing the country are completely confused, like those funding the business. One agency does not know what the other's function is. We need a one stop shop and a definite source of funding for accommodation in areas where there is a shortage of it. It is hard to believe that there are areas without hotels, registered guest houses or self catering accommodation.

There is a need for greater co-operation between Departments not only between the Department of Defence and the Marine, as mentioned earlier. There should be encouragement for the arts, music and dance. Donegal County Council is working on a cross-Border basis to provide a Macgilligan to Greencastle car ferry. Such initiatives will open up the whole north coast to tourist potential. We need that to be followed up and I hope the Minister will do so.

Cuidím leis an fógra tairisceana. Léiríonn an leasú in ainm an Aire Turasóireachta agus Trádála go bhfuil géar gá leis. Tá fadhbanna bunús acha i dtionscail turasóireacht na tíre seo agus caithfidh an Rialtas polasaithe a chur chun cinn a leasóidh na deacrach taí sin. Sula ndéanann an Rialtas sin, afách, ní folair don Aire na fadhbanna sin a aithint. Cabhróidh an diospóir eacht seo leis é sin a dheanamh agus tá súil agam go n-éisteoidh sé leis na moltaí éagsúla atá á chur os a chomhair.

This motion was placed on the Order Paper last February, long before the report from ITIC was published. That report confirmed that our concerns outlined in this motion are well founded. I look forward to a future policy statement from the industry or from the Government which will address issues raised today but not assessed in the ITIC report. It is clear that there is a worrying lack of planning in tourism and that the industry suffers from poor research and weak objective setting. As a result, despite increasing tourist numbers, there is much confusion and disaffection in the industry.

In fairness, the Minister of State acknowledged this in his speech and outlined again the tourism 2000 strategy as the basis of the Government's response. The policy document of the previous Government was reponsive to the needs of its time and quite far reaching in many respects. It laid the ground work for the present encouraging growth in numbers and revenue. However, the situation is constantly changing. The policy needs updating, perhaps a fundamental rethink and a change of direction. The onus is on the Minister and the Government to undertake this review and change in policy direction. Deputy Andrews and I have highlighted this at every opportunity in the House and in committees, and we take the opportunity here again under six headings. There are other areas of concern, but these are the principal issues which have been raised with us, mainly by people in the trade.

The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation report.Responding to Changing Market Trends, prepared by Tourism and Leisure Partners, identifies some of the successes and deficiencies in Irish tourism. Nobody denies there are encouraging increases in visitor numbers nationally. However, there are huge regional disparities and a minimal increase of 3 per cent in the shoulder season is quite disappointing while outside of Dublin off-season growth is negligible. I have already referred to the ITIC report, a section of which highlights the disparities between the regions. Among British holiday visitors, east coast bednights grew by 30 per cent in 1995 while west coast bednights declined by 19 per cent. Among European holiday visitors, east coast bednights grew by 6 per cent and west coast bednights declined by 6 per cent. As to US holiday visitors, which is the most encouraging area nationally, east coast bednights grew by 88 per cent while west coast bednights grew by 40 per cent.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, the growth in visitor numbers and revenue in Dublin is welcomed by all. Some speakers may have misunderstood our intention in that regard. We welcome that and would like to see it continuing to develop. We accept there are slightly different markets. However, even within Dublin and within the eastern region there are enormous differences. Large numbers of tourists who visit Dublin are concentrated in quite a small area of the city. There are other areas, south County Dublin, north County Dublin and adjoining counties, which could benefit from visitors coming to Dublin, and if that growth is to continue they will have to be included. I note South Dublin County Council is thinking of appointing a person in charge of tourism for its area. That is to be welcomed but, certainly, the Dublin numbers can be accommodated in a greater area, and the lessons and successes of Dublin can be repeated in the rest of the country by adopting appropriate strategies. We are talking about doing that by increasing the number of people coming in and not by decreasing the number of people visiting Dublin.

We also need to address the shoulder season and the off-season. Perhaps the shoulder season is more important because it allows the opportunity to lengthen the season in each direction and has enormous advantages in terms of costs for hoteliers and others involved in the industry, particularly staff. A new policy initiative is required in that area.

The role of access in the disparities between east and west is highlighted in the ITIC report, and we will have to come up with ways to address it and face up to the fact that more and more people who want to come here want to fly in. The west of Ireland can benefit as much as Dublin by increasing the number of flights to the many airports in the west and also by addressing the cost of rented car facilities at those airports. Ultimately cost is a major factor in the development of tourism, and the Government can come up with a policy that will ensure competitive costs and give an advantage to the areas which have not enjoyed much growth.

The second point addressed in the motion relates to spending Government finances and the effect that has. That was examined in the report which did not come up with conclusive findings. If governments are in the business of spending money they need also to be able to say that it has had some effect.

A number of speakers from the Border area expressed their disappointment that the Border fund was not spent. Many people in the industry are a little surprised at the level of facilities provided, for example in Tralee. I am sure that was not for political reasons, but some people might believe it was. The Government is making a mistake in placing too much emphasis on spending European Regional Development Fund money — this has now become the major objective rather than, as it should be, the means to an end. We also have to face up to the fact that there has been on occasion development of inadequate or inappropriate tourism projects. The Celtworld project may fall into that category. The conference centre scenario which was dealt with in detail by Deputy Andrews is most worrying. We also have a tendency to copy successful projects and provide too many of them and, as a consequence, damage the success of the project that initially set the running. We need to fundamentally rethink the role of the management boards in relation to the European Regional Development Fund funds. That is extremely important in terms of deciding where Irish tourism is going.

On the quality of tourism and income generation we must learn a lesson from other countries. Parts of Spain and Italy successfully encouraged mass tourism but, unfortunately, almost killed the goose that laid the golden egg. They have developed strategies which have successfully spread their tourism, and we can learn from them. There are also important segments emerging in tourism which need to be pinpointed and chased directly because they are the areas that can deliver. I have in mind areas like youth tourism which tends to be ignored to some extent, the amazing market in Europe and in North America for the additional holiday, the second or third holiday, even more in some cases, the green holiday, business tourism, cultural tourism. There is even a role in adult education for parts of the country. To achieve success in this area we need to address the role of the RTOs and encourage them to increase visitor satisfaction and create visitor spend. There is a need in that area for innovation and for involving the local community and crafts people in areas and getting a marketplace for a shop front for products of the area.

We also referred to integrated development at local level. The local authorities need to be brought into the picture. Support and direction is required for local communities who are showing initiative. We have to remember that the local communities are the receiving ambassador and play a key role in enhancing Ireland's reputation for hospitality and friendliness. Almost every speaker has referred to the lack of co-ordination of State and grant aiding agencies. The Minister and Minister of State are aware of this. Deputy Penrose, in his address, listed some of these agencies. There is an urgent need for clarity in the role of this plethora of bodies. Some rationalisation is also required. On the Manpower Development Plan we would all agree that CERT are doing a magnificent job but there are many other agencies involved in training, and training is crucial to the development of tourism. It is most important that the quality of service provided to the tourist be of the highest quality to enhance the reputation of Ireland as a tourist destination and to ensure that the kind of growth we have enjoyed is spread more evenly, brings better tourism revenue with it, and continues to grow. There are signs of poor planning. It is hardly any wonder that Irish tourism has drifted to some extent and that in the very era when we are enjoying such huge increases in numbers there is much disaffection and confusion and in some areas the industry is virtually in chaos. There is a weak organisational structure with no clearly defined roles for the public and private sectors. We need a modern tourism industry which can cope and prosper in a highly competitive world. To this end innovation is the key.

I welcome the recent report made by Shannon Development and the University of Limerick in this area. It has highlighted the advantages of innovation, that we in Irish tourism are simply not into innovation and have not realised we are in a very competitive arena where there is a huge market but where we can only continue to succeed if we can match those with whom we are competing. We have to match them in terms of cost and service. We can certainly match them in terms of the project. However, we need to be able to match them in all areas.

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 68; Níl, 56.

  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Barry, Peter.
  • Bell, Michael.
  • Bhamjee, Moosajee.
  • Boylan, Andrew.
  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Bhreathnach, Niamh.
  • Bree, Declan.
  • Broughan, Tommy.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Bruton, John.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Carey, Donal.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Connor, John.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Hugh.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Currie, Austin.
  • Deasy, Austin.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Doyle, Avril.
  • Dukes, Alan M.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Fitzgerald, Brian.
  • Fitzgerald, Eithne.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Flaherty, Mary.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Harte, Paddy.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McDowell, Derek.
  • McGahon, Brendan.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • Mitchell, Jim.
  • Mulvihill, John.
  • Nealon, Ted.
  • Noonan, Michael (Limerick East).
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • O'Sullivan, Toddy.
  • Owen, Nora.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Penrose, William.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, John.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheehan, P.J.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Taylor, Mervyn.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Upton, Pat.
  • Walsh, Eamon.
  • Yates, Ivan.

Níl

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Connolly, Ger.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fitzgerald, Liam.
  • Foley, Denis.
  • Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Hilliard, Colm M.
  • Hughes, Séamus.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Brennan, Matt.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McDaid, James.
  • Moffatt, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Morley, P.J.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Liz.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Batt.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Malley, Desmond J.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • Quill, Máirín.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies J. Higgins and B. Fitzgerald; Níl, Deputies D. Ahern and Callely.
Amendment declared carried.
Motion, as amended, put and declared carried.