As I announced on Monday evening, 22 June, I have been informed by the chairman of the independent management board for product development of his board's decision to award a grant of approximately £25 million under the Operational Programme for Tourism, 1994-9, to the tender submitted by Spencer Dock International Convention Centre Ltd., for the development of a national conference centre at Spencer Dock adjacent to Dublin's International Financial Services Centre. The board's decision followed the submission by Bord Fáilte of the report of the team of expert evaluators which examined each of the five tenders. The total estimated cost of the conference centre being proposed is in the region of £80 million.
I am pleased that a tender was selected following the competition run by Bord Fáilte on behalf of the management board. The decision of the management board is subject to Government and EU agreement on foot of a cost benefit analysis which has been commissioned and is under way.
I pay tribute to the chairman, Mr. Malachy Stephens, and the board for successfully bringing the process to this stage, having regard to the requirement of the Commission that a sufficient level of progress be achieved to ensure the project can be completed under the current round of Structural Funds.
This flagship project is seen by Government as an extremely important addition to our tourism infrastructure. It will further enhance the tourism industry's efforts to exploit the full potential of the international conference market. It is estimated that the new centre when developed could generate an additional £30 million per annum in foreign tourism revenue, much of it outside the high season which is a matter of great significance.