I am taking this issue on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar. I wish to advise the House at the outset that the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport has no responsibility in this matter.
Number Twenty Nine, Fitzwilliam Street is a restored Georgian house which is run as a museum of Dublin home life in the period 1790 to 1820. It is owned by the Electricity Supply Board and run by it in association with the National Museum of Ireland. Issues relating to the opening hours of the venue or the provision of guided tours, are commercial considerations for the ESB and the Minister has no role in the matter. The ESB, as a commercial entity, must organise its resources in the manner it considers appropriate. It is hoped that it can continue to make this important museum as accessible as possible to visitors and Dubliners alike.
Dublin has a comprehensive range of tourism product, including State assets such as the various branches of the National Museum, the National Gallery, Dublin Castle and Kilmainham Gaol. There are also the long-established visitor attractions, such as the Book of Kells at Trinity College, Christchurch, the Chester Beatty Library and Malahide Castle. In more recent times, Dublin has seen the growth of a range of new visitor attractions, such as the Guinness Storehouse and the Dublinia Viking Centre. These attractions, old and new alike, draw hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. That is not to say we are complacent about the tourism product in Dublin. The Government, through Fáilte Ireland, has continued to invest in the improvement of Dublin's visitor attractions. Last year, a redeveloped Malahide Castle was opened. Approval has also been given for an investment to enhance the presentation of the Book of Kells at Trinity College. To ensure that visitors really can get the maximum value from Dublin's tourism assets, a special walking trail is currently being developed through some of the top cultural and heritage sights of the city centre, running across the city from College Green to Kilmainham. To be called "The Dubline", it will give tourists greater accessibility to Dublin past and present.
Dublin's location is also a natural advantage, which is now being fully utilised as a tourism asset. As a coastal destination on the edge of the countryside, Dublin can be a city where visitors can engage in city-type activities such as museums and shopping or avail of an exciting array of water activities and outdoor pursuits in close proximity to the city. We want to utilise Dublin's natural attractions and will be doing so by marketing the city as "Dublin Plus", a city that is urban and rural and for night and day. The role of technology is now of major importance in bringing a city to life for the modern visitor. Last month, a new app was launched as part of the Discover Ireland campaign to enhance further the experience of those who come to Dublin. The new app uses the latest in GPS and camera technology to allow tourists to become their own guide as they navigate the city's attractions. In a further enhancement to the technology assets available to tourists, free Wifi connections are provided at our main tourism offices.
All of the larger Dublin hotels have hosted a significant amount of North American business, with some hotels observing particularly strong levels of US visitors. Across all hotels, there was a good, strong mix of increased domestic, Northern and UK visitors. Many of the most popular hotels were at 100% occupancy, an increase on their 2012 performance, which was considered excellent at the time. These figures indicate the strength of the Dublin tourism product and reflect the quality of the support being provided by Government to the tourism sector in the capital. We look forward with great anticipation to a strong overall performance for tourism in Dublin for 2013, based on the quality and range of Dublin's visitor attractions and the continuing success of The Gathering Ireland initiative.