The Deputy may be aware that I attended the launch of the ITIC document, Strategy for Growth Beyond 2000, on 25 May 1998. The study is a welcome and timely contribution to the consultation process initiated on the basis of my own Department's paper entitled A Strategy for Tourism Development, 2000-2006, which is now under way between my Department, State tourism agencies and the industry.
The ITIC study provides an industry perspective on the continued development of tourism and is particularly timely in the context of future EU Structural Funding. The study highlights the potential for further growth in Irish tourism, based on an examination of global markets, changes in consumer preferences etc. It makes recommendations inter alia regarding future funding requirements, training and institutional arrangements.
Bord Fáilte has been preparing a draft business plan for tourism marketing, 1998-2003, which will be published in the near future. Obviously, given the different perspectives involved, there are differences in emphasis in the planning documents prepared by my Department, ITIC and Bord Fáilte which will have to be teased out in the coming weeks. However, a common thread running through all three documents is the need to maintain high investment levels in the key areas of product development, marketing and training if the industry is to sustain its momentum.
The overall objective of the current consultation process is to develop a shared vision for the development of tourism into the new millennium. Over the coming weeks, discussions will focus on key issues, including those emerging from the aforementioned documents, such as funding arrangements post-1999, destination marketing, training and institutional arrangements. The discussions will make a significant contribution to the creation of a clear vision for the future of Irish tourism which will inform my Department's input in the autumn into the preparations by the Department of Finance of a new national development plan.