Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 30 Jul 1970

Vol. 68 No. 17

Tourist Traffic Bill, 1970: Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The purposes of the Bill are, firstly, to raise the statutory limit on the aggregate amount which may be paid to Bord Fáilte for the giving of grants for the development of holiday accommodation, secondly, to raise the statutory limit on the aggregate amount of loans which may be guaranteed for the development of tourist projects and to extend the time limit on the giving of such guarantees, thirdly, to provide for the registration of approved holiday cottages and, fourthly, to increase the number of members who may be appointed to the Board of Bord Fáilte Éireann.

Grants for the development of holiday accommodation were first introduced in 1959 and provision was made in the Tourist Traffic Act, 1959, for the payment to Bord Fáilte of sums not exceeding an aggregate of £500,000 for the purpose. As the tourist industry developed and accommodation needs expanded this limit was successively raised to £1.5 million by the Tourist Traffic Act, 1963, to £3 million by the Tourist Traffic Act, 1966 and to £5.5 million by the Tourist Traffic Act, 1968. The total amount issued to Bord Fáilte for accommodation development grants up to 31st March, 1970 was £4,930,000, which leaves a balance of £570,000 before the statutory limit of £5.5 million is reached. The amount which the Government have agreed to provide in the present financial year is £1.5 million and amending legislation is therefore necessary to authorise payments in excess of £570,000 this year and to provide for payments in future years.

From the funds provided for the development of holiday accommodation, Bord Fáilte operate a scheme of grants with the approval of the Ministers for Transport and Power and Finance. The scheme provides for the payment of up to 35 per cent of the total construction cost of new hotels in the western counties and up to 25 per cent in other areas. Where the total construction grants do not apply, grants up to a maximum of 50 per cent of the cost of new hotel bedrooms are provided in the west and 40 per cent elsewhere. Grants up to 30 per cent are provided for dining areas, kitchens, et cetera in hotels in the west and 20 per cent in other areas, subject to the exclusion of certain locations such as Dublin and Cork. Twenty per cent grants are provided throughout the State for hotel staff accommodation and for the provision of recreational facilities for hotel guests.

Guesthouses in all areas are eligible for grants up to 20 per cent of the cost of new bedrooms subject to the condition that at least five guest bedrooms are available on completion of the project. Caravan and camping sites are eligible for grants up to a maximum of 50 per cent of the cost of the site development and amenity works subject to a maximum grant of £20,000 for each project. There are grants also for the provision and improvements of youth hostels and for improvement works in colleges and similar institutions providing accommodation for visitors during vacation periods.

I would emphasise that the percentages which I have mentioned represent the maximum grants which Bord Fáilte are authorised to pay. Each development is, however, examined by Bord Fáilte on its merits and it is the responsibility of the board to determine the actual level of grant appropriate to each case having regard to various factors, including the location of the development, type of accommodation being provided, the cost of development, the price level, the market demand, the volume of existing accommodation in the area and other relevant tourism criteria. Thus the grants are operated on a flexible basis so as to provide maximum encouragement to projects which best meet tourism needs. Hotel and guesthouse owners and other promoters of accommodation have responded to the incentives provided and the £5 million expended by Bord Fáilte in grants since the schemes were introduced must be related to a total investment of £36 million in accommodation development. Thus the grant element in the total development programme has been 14 per cent. The number of bedrooms in hotels and guesthouses has increased from 17,800 in 1960 to 27,890 in the present year, an increase of more than 56 per cent. There has also of course been a significant improvement in the standard of accommodation.

Policy in relation to accommodation development is designed to achieve a flow of accommodation to match the growth in demand and the standards tourists seek. It is clear that this balance is difficult to achieve and grant schemes were introduced so that accommodation growth targets could be realised. The effectiveness of the incentives is assessed on a continuous basis and the schemes are revised in the light of experience. For a number of years, although grants had been provided, it had not been possible to secure adequate accommodation growth. So in April, 1967, the accommodation incentives were improved, but in deciding on the level of funds to be provided for this purpose the Government have to have regard to the overall demands on the Exchequer. The improved incentives coupled with an easing in the availability of credit for holiday accommodation development resulted in an atmosphere conducive to investment in the hotel industry. By late last year it became clear that the rate of growth in accommodation was beginning to outstrip targets and the level of funds which the Government could make available for this purpose. Bord Fáilte, accordingly, found it necessary to introduce a moratorium, the effect of which is that the board are not entering into any new grant commitments for the time being.

Since the introduction of financial assistance for accommodation development in 1959, income from tourism and travel has risen from £39 million to almost £98 million. Apart from its important role in the balance of payments, tourism has proved to be an effective stimulus to the economy through the additional spending power it injects, through the enlarged market it provides for Irish foods and other goods and through the employment it generates. Tourism has been particularly valuable as a means of improving the economy of western areas where prospects of industrial development are limited. I am confident that tourism will continue as a strong force for economic development.

The growth of tourism over the past decade could not have been achieved without a considerable expansion of the volume of accommodation and the improvement of standards. For various reasons, including high construction costs and the problem of seasonality, investment in hotels and other forms of holiday accommodation, particularly outside the main urban areas, is not as attractive commercially as other types of investment and financial incentives have been necessary to ensure that the expansion of tourism is not retarded by a shortage of the right kinds of accommodation.

Financial assistance will continue to be necessary to ensure that accommodation expansion keeps pace with the needs of tourism and particularly to encourage development in the less populated areas now being reached by the growing volume of motoring visitors. In December last Dáil Éireann voted an additional £500,000 by way of supplementary estimate to enable Bord Fáilte to meet grant commitments that had matured more quickly than expected. This brought last year's provision for accommodation grants to a record £1.5 million and this year I am providing a further £1.5 million. To provide the necessary statutory authority for this year's payments and to provide for the continuation of the grant schemes I propose that the present limit of £5.5 million on accommodation grants be replaced by a new limit of £11 million. The provision in the Bill is of an enabling nature and the amounts to be provided for accommodation development in each year will fall to be debated and voted by the Dáil in the normal way under the Vote for my Department.

The financing of tourist development projects usually includes an element of borrowing. The State does not provide any direct loan facilities but, to assist developers in raising loans, Ministerial guarantees can be given in respect of repayment and interest on loans raised from banks, insurance companies or other lending institutions to finance the cost of holiday accommodation or other amenities or services for tourists. The Tourist Traffic Act, 1952, provided that the aggregate amount of loans which might be guaranteed in respect of such borrowings was £3 million. The Tourist Traffic Act, 1961, raised the limit to £5 million. Guarantees have been given to date in respect of some 70 loans accounting for an aggregate of approximately £2.6 million and approval in principle has been given for guarantees of further loans which will bring the aggregate above the £5 million level. Amending legislation is therefore necessary to increase the limit.

Section 21 of the 1952 Act provided for the giving of guarantees during a period of five years, i.e. up to 1957. This limit has been successively extended—by five years at a time—by the Tourist Traffic Acts of 1957, 1961 and 1966 and the present limit will expire in 1972.

The guaranteed loan scheme has proved to be a valuable instrument for promoters of tourist development projects and it is considered essential to retain it. I am accordingly proposing that the limit of £5 million imposed in the Tourist Traffic Act, 1961 be raised to £8 million and that the time limit imposed by the Tourist Traffic Act, 1966 be extended by five years to 1977.

The third element in the Bill arises from the development of a new type of holiday accommodation, that is, the holiday cottage, of which the Shannon Free Airport Development Company have been the pioneers. This company in association with local interests in the Shannon region have promoted a "rent-a-cottage" scheme under which 12 cottages were provided at Ballyvaughan, County Clare, last year and a further eight will be available at Corofin this year. Cottages are also being provided at other locations in the region. In 1969 there was a heavy demand for the cottages and bookings for 1970 show that there is a strong demand for this type of accomodation.

Provision was made in section 64 (2) of the Finance Act, 1969, to enable the initial and annual tax allowances applicable to capital expenditure on hotels and holiday camps to be claimed in respect of holiday cottages. It is a condition of this provision that the cottages must be registered with Bord Fáilte and it is therefore necessary to authorise the Board to set up a register of approved holiday cottages similar to the existing registers of hotels, guesthouses, et cetera. To secure registration, accommodation must comply with standards, which will be prescribed by Bord Fáilte in regulations made with my consent, and proprietors will have to file with the board a statement of maximum prices. However, the use of the titles “approved holiday cottages”, “approved holiday house” and similar descriptions will be confined to registered premises. This is in line with the present registration schemes for hotels, guest-houses, caravan parks, et cetera.

The rent-a-cottage scheme promoted in the Shannon region is designed to bring visitors to villages and rural areas which have so far been unable to share fully in the benefits of tourism because of the lack of suitable tourist accommodation. It is an imaginative scheme which has proved very popular with visitors and I hope that it will be followed by projects on similar lines in other parts of the country. The development of this type of accommodation is in line with my concern that tourism should be used as an instrument of economic and social development in rural areas, particularly in the western counties. The setting up of a register and the publication of registration standards at this juncture will guide promoters or local groups who wish to embark on development of lettable accommodation of this kind and should ensure that development takes place on the right lines.

There has been a good deal of comment and speculation for some time about the prospects for tourism in 1970. In view of the importance of the matter, I feel I should say something on the subject on this occasion. As relevant statistics and returns become available, Bord Fáilte make assessments in relation to the season. These assessments or estimates are revised as more up-to-date information becomes available. The most recent figures showed June as a disappointing month with declines in all our main markets. Despite the drop in June, however, the overall situation for the first six months showed an increase of 4.8 per cent in tourist numbers for all markets except Northern Ireland, for which it is not possible to make an estimate at this stage. Traffic from Northern Ireland is, however, likely to be down on last year for obvious reasons, and Bord Fáilte have increased their promotional activities in that area in an effort to alleviate the trend. It is impossible at this stage to be more specific about likely tourism returns for 1970.

Over the years the Government have provided funds for the development of tourism on an ever-increasing scale. In 1960, £500,000 was provided for Bord Fáilte, whereas in the current year the board will receive more than ten times that amount, i.e. £5.55 million, an increase of £300,000 over last year. In recent months a number of people advocated that special additional funds for marketing be made available to deal with the unusual situation which had developed. Senators, however, no doubt also recognise the need for realistic marketing and that any substantial diversion of funds to counteract short-term adverse factors at the expense of long-term plans for the permanent building of our tourism industry might not represent the best use of tourism funds or be in the best interests of tourism.

I met the board of Bord Fáilte on 8th July last, and asked them to carry out a full appraisal of their activities in the light of the problems facing the industry with a view to making any changes which appear necessary to ensure the continued expansion of our tourist income. On 10th July, I met a deputation from the Irish Hotels Federation to discuss the planning and proper organisation of tourist development for the coming years. At both meetings, we had a constructive exchange of views, as a result of which, the board and the federation undertook to submit to me, as soon as possible, reports in relation to the development of tourism, not only for next year but for the next five years. I shall be reviewing the outlook for tourism in the coming years in the light of these reports.

In the course of my discussions, both organisations were agreed that it would be unrealistic, at this period of the year, to embark on a special marketing campaign for the 1970 season. Bord Fáilte, however, are now making a special effort to encourage Irish people to holiday in their own country this year.

The expansion of the Irish tourist industry has gradually become more difficult as our tourist interests have to compete for business on an international basis, and the competition has become keener. In an exceptional year, such as the present one, with an unprecedented combination of adverse factors, the industry is working under exceptionally difficult conditions. It is, accordingly, essential that tourist interests gear themselves not only to recover any ground that may be lost, but to secure an increase in tourism income in the years ahead. Having considered the matter. I have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to increase the membership of the board of Bord Fáilte in order to enrich the expertise and experience available at board level. The existing board has done a magnificent job, but I am convinced that it would benefit from an expanded membership in preparation for the challenges of the future. I, accordingly, propose to increase the maximum membership of the board from seven to nine.

I would emphasise that our policy on tourism has been to encourage the development of the facilities and services at home and to prepare marketing strategies abroad which will ensure a continuing and increasing tourist traffic to Ireland. Tourism is sensitive to many events over which neither the Government nor the industry can exercise very much control. Each year brings its own crop of problems and I believe that the continued pursuit of steady development represents the best use of our resources and is in the best long-term interests of tourism. This Bill is designed to assist in maintaining the tourist industry in the important position it now occupies in our economy, and I, therefore, confidently recommend the Bill to the House.

I should like to make a few remarks on the Bill and particularly on the Minister's statement. As the Minister said, the purpose of this Bill, which is a comparatively short Bill, is basically to provide extra money for the giving of grants for the development of holiday accommodation; secondly to raise the statutory limit on the aggregate amount of loans which may be guaranteed for the development of tourist projects; thirdly to provide for the registration of approved holiday cottages and, finally, to increase the number of members who may be appointed to the board of Bord Fáilte Éireann.

I do not think any Member of this House would refuse to give the Minister the extra sums he requires to secure the continued expansion of the tourist industry but the House is entitled to be critical of the current position of the tourist industry and to avail of the opportunity for a fairly wide-ranging discussion on the current situation and to offer, I hope, some constructive suggestions for the future of what is a very important industry.

Tourism is basically an export business and, for this reason, does require very active and continuing support from the Exchequer and from the various bodies charged with promoting tourism to this country. It deals specifically with the consumer. Its revenues depend on the personal desires and anticipations of individuals and groups, and if the reality is disappointing our visitors will not come again. It is the end product of a number of other industries, whose fortunes and fluctuations can affect it profoundly, and questions such as the prices in the local shops, the cost of entertainment in local centres, the cost of transport, all leave an impact on the tourist for good or for ill. The personal attitudes of the people they come in contact with— friendliness, courtesy, co-operation— have possibly a more important influence on the tourist than our wonderful scenery and our magnificent new roads.

As the Minister has pointed out in his introductory statement, tourism has developed very substantially particularly in the past decade, but I think, it might be helpful if we were to throw our minds back just a little beyond the '60s in order to appreciate the basic reasons for the development of tourism since the war, and also to have a good hard look at the current situation and to see first of all if we are adopting the right methods of promoting tourism in future years.

During the war years, as certainly some of us in this House well remember, tourism was a pushover. People, mostly English, came to Ireland and enjoyed the abundance of food and drink which was available at very reasonable cost, and enjoyed the absence from the strain and continuous anxiety in which families in Great Britain lived. Somebody at that time made the witty remark in describing the British tourists coming over here as "marching through darkest Éire with a knife and fork". This favourable situation changed following the end of the war, but fortunately a new set of circumstances arose to assist the Irish tourist industry—a huge increase in the numbers of people, particularly British and American, who wanted and could afford to travel. An additional factor in the case of Ireland was the number of Americans of Irish descent who wanted to visit the home of their ancestors and to fly there on an Irish airline.

Those new tourists presented several serious problems, particularly in regard to accommodation, and frantic efforts were made to extend existing hotels and build new ones. Unfortunately many of the new hotels, while offering efficient and up-to-date service, presented a functional image almost wholly out of character with the traditions of this country. This tendency to be "with it" has not been confined to the hotel industry and there appears to be a fairly widespread view that the way to encourage the tourist to come to Ireland is to give him what he is seeing and getting in New York, Boston, London or Birmingham. This in my view is a grave mistake which must be corrected if our tourist trade is not to suffer a considerable loss. An all-out effort by Bord Fáilte and the regional tourist boards must be launched to convince all concerned with the tourist industry—the hotels, the transport companies, shopkeepers, local authorities, et cetera—that the vast majority of tourists who come to Ireland do so because they want to see things Irish and not a pale reflection of what they live amongst for 50 weeks of the year.

Notwithstanding conflicting statements made by the Department and by organs of the tourist industry, the fact remains that this has been a disappointing season. Several reasons have been advanced for the falling off in visitors this year—the crisis in the north, high prices, the increase in the amount of money which British citizens can now take abroad and a showing down in the British and United States economies. All have contributed but the outstanding factor, in my view, appears to be the high cost of goods and services. In other words, we are pricing ourselves out of the tourist market.

Up to two years ago this country enjoyed the reputation of being one in which visitors could get value for their money in hotels, shops, gift houses and elsewhere. The substantial increases that have taken place in the prices of food, drink and entertainment are basically the result of Government policy and it would be a mistake to allow a campaign to start, a witch hunt, blaming hoteliers and shopkeepers for the substantial increases in prices of goods and services.

It is obvious, therefore, that if we are to recover our reputation for giving good value for good money, the Government must take the initial step. I should like to join with the Minister in paying a tribute to the work of Bord Fáilte during the past decade and we should in fairness add words of praise to Aer Lingus for the promotional job they have been doing. I should like personally to include the Shannon Free Airport Development Company in this.

It is obvious that the changing pattern of the tourist industry calls for new ideas and new impetus and new personnel in the body charged with the task of promoting tourism in this country. In this respect the Minister is apparently of the opinion that by increasing the membership of Bord Fáilte Éireann from seven to nine he will give the board the new image and the new impetus which that body require. With the greatest respect to the Minister, I think this is a gimmick that will not pay off. I suggest to him that the time has arrived when the board, or the membership of the board, should be completely reconstituted and a new board with new personnel, possibly including some of the existing personnel but with better and wider representation, should be established.

I should like to put the point to the Minister—it has been put before in regard to other boards—that when selecting personnel for a reconstituted Bord Fáilte, ability to do the job and competence for the work should take priority over political consideration.

I agree fully with the Senator.

A point not mentioned in the Minister's speech but one which I think is very appropriate to the circumstances is that we should have much closer co-operation with the north in the promotion of the tourist industry. They have, as we have, a deep interest in tourism; their economy, as ours, benefits very substantially from it. Therefore, there must be common ground on which we could usefully co-operate. It may be too much to hope that a joint tourist board for the entire country could be established but it should be possible to establish a joint tourist council that would work together and advise the separate boards which look after tourism in the north and in the Republic.

I should like to make some suggestions to the Minister in regard to what I consider to be a very important factor in the encouragement of tourism. As I said earlier, to some extent we have lost the image which makes tourists want to come to Ireland. I think there have been too many gimmicks, too much pig in the parlour type promotion, and I think the time has come to reassess the inducements which will bring tourists to this country.

For instance, quite a simple innovation would do much to help tourists to feel more at home here and it would give them the opportunity of mixing more closely in Irish life. I refer to the provision of food in public houses throughout the country. I understand at the moment that something prevents publicans from selling food—I speak of the country rather than Dublin. If it requires legislation to provide licences to permit publicans to supply a simple menu in their establishments, every effort should be made to have this legislation introduced. "Pub grub" is a common phrase in England. In this country, with so many families coming over here from England on the ferry services, cheap meals supplied in local pubs would be a very welcome innovation.

Evening entertainment is a matter on which I think we have fallen down very much. The type of entertainment being provided is either wholly unIrish or it is of the type which falls very flat and once seen tourists do not want to see it again. Overall, an effort should be made to provide entertainment especially evening entertainment, based on the traditions of the Irish people, their ability in drama, music and the arts.

All over the country, as the Minister is aware, there are excellent drama festivals held. These festivals should be integrated into the general tourist picture so that tourists coming to Ireland for a few weeks would feel that during their stay they would be inclucated into Irish life, becoming, as it were, to use a colloquialism, one of our own. The cost would be comparatively small—it would not run into the millions of pounds we have provided for hotel accommodation. It would establish a bond of friendship between our own people at home and tourists.

I think we all agree that the most lasting impression all of us retain after a trip abroad is the reception, or otherwise, we get from the natives of the country we visit. We have a lot to offer in regard to entertainment based on our traditional way of life and it is a pity we do not make more of it. The cost would be extremely modest, the effects would be immense and it would go a long way to cementing a lasting friendship with visitors from abroad, much more so than all the extravaganzas of new hotels and so on.

The Minister might have regard to the overlapping that undoubtedly exists among Bord Fáilte and the regional tourism organisations. The latter, from my personal knowledge of Shannonside and the mid-western tourist organisation, are doing an excellent job of promotion of the rent-a-cottage scheme. This scheme is an excellent one and has been largely due to the enthusiasm shown by the Shannonside tourist organisation. The Minister referred to the Shannon area but I presume this is specifically what he had in mind and that it was intended as a compliment to the organisation based in Limerick.

That was the intention.

This is a critical year for the Irish tourist industry. I do not intend to be unfair to the Minister but neither do I think that we should swallow all of what was said on the record of achievement put before us in his speech. It reads fine. A lot of money is being put into the tourist industry; many millions of pounds have been put in during the past decade and the results have been considerable. However, circumstances are now changing and if we are to expand the industry in the years ahead we must adopt new techniques and new ideas. With all due respect to Bord Fáilte and their personnel, I do not consider the present board to be fit to undertake the challenge of the future. The Minister is merely skimming the problem by increasing the personnel from seven to nine members. From reading between the lines, my view is that the Minister is dissatisfied with the board but if I am incorrect in saying that perhaps he will correct me when he is replying. He has given the board generous praise for the work they have done in the past year and he now thinks that by adding two more members the board will suddenly become more active and more dynamic. I do not share his view.

If he wishes to bring a new impetus to the work of Bord Fáilte it is time to scrap the existing board completely and to reconstitute it on a wider and more representative basis. It is a little late to be discussing a tourist Bill during the last days of July. This is the sort of Bill that we should have been considering in April or May last. I am sorry to say that I considered the Minister to be critical of Bord Fáilte and rightly so, especially when we have regard to their work during the past year. However, the Minister himself cannot escape a good measure of criticism for allowing this situation to drag on. It was obvious at an early date this year that the tourist industry was in for a rough season and the Minister should have taken positive steps to put things on a proper keel.

Voting moneys at this time of the year, most of which I understand are required to pay grants to hoteliers who have incurred substantial expenses and to builders who are awaiting payment, is obviously very necessary but it shows a lack of foresight in planning not only on the part of Bord Fáilte but also on the part of the Minister and his Department. There is no point in criticising Bord Fáilte, the regional tourist groups or anybody else if the man directly responsible for the promotion and encouragement of tourism is not alive to the situation.

I seldom criticise a Minister or his Department but in dealing with this industry which has such vast potential and which is of such great importance to the Irish economy, the Minister must accept a large measure of the responsibility for the failure of tourism in this country and for the very uncertain future of the industry. This uncertainty is apparent at this juncture despite pious hopes expressed by the Minister at the conclusion of his address. I have grave doubts as to whether these targets will be realised unless there is a thorough investigation into the whole position. We should give full credit to Bord Fáilte, to Aer Lingus and to other bodies who have done so much during the past decade or two in this work but we cannot sleep on that. As the Minister indicated, the future years will be ten times as competitive as the past. There will be a rat race from now on. So, we must provide services which are at least comparable to those in other countries. If we do not endeavour to create a wider and different market of tourism we shall be in very dire straits indeed. I accept this Bill and, of course, I support the provision of the moneys required for the various purposes. At the same time, we must warn the Minister that we are far from satisfied with the current situation and that we have grave doubts as to the future of the industry.

Yesterday, I had occasion to compliment the Minister for Education on the simplicity of the language used in the Vocational Education Bill. It was comprehensible to everybody. However, on reading this Bill the first thing that occurred to me was that if I were some small hotelier living down the country and if I were to send for this Bill, I would not understand a word of it. For instance, to illustrate the point I am making, section 6 (a) reads:

by the insertion after section 24 (1) (g) (inserted by section 2 (1) (b) of the Act of 1966) of the following—

and so on. Perhaps the Parliamentary draftsmen were not able to put it in some other way but I do not believe that any ordinary person would understand what is meant by the phraseology of this Bill.

The general purpose of the Bill is to create more funds for Bord Fáilte to cover their many activities. The board come in for their fair share of criticism. If one talks to the big hotelier he will, perhaps, say that they are a terrible crowd; the small hotelier might say they are worse, but to be fair, when Bord Fáilte came into being they were asked to organise the country for tourism. They did not have any basis to work on; it was all completely new to them at that time. Indeed, the country as a whole did not have the remotest idea what the tourism requirements would be. This necessitated Bord Fáilte in taking on a great many problems simultaneously. The provision of adequate hotel accommodation was essential. This entailed Bord Fáilte carrying out a considerable number of surveys. I wish they would stop surveying now because far too much time is being spent carrying out survey work at the moment. They also had to consider how to entertain visitors. They came up with a latent undeveloped asset in the field of inland fisheries and sea angling.

Taking it by and large, while there may be some aspects of Bord Fáilte's activities which I do not personally agree with it must be acknowledged that in the time they have had, and having regard to the fact that in the early stages money was not readily available to finance them, they have made remarkable progress. It is not possible in such a complicated industry as tourism to say with any degree of certainty whether some of their decisions were right or wrong. It was clear from the beginning that we were aiming at the American market. Bord Fáilte promoted sales in America but once the Americans came here complaints were received about substandard hotel accommodation. This brought Bord Fáilte into the field of high class hotel accommodation. Both Bord Fáilte and Aer Lingus directed their activities at the American market, but this did not materialise and it became necessary to shift their activities and offer a more moderate type of accommodation to British and Continental people. We have arrived at the position now, where according to the Minister's statement, and I quote:

The number of bedrooms and guesthouses has increased from 17,800 in 1960 to 27,890 in the present year, an increase of more than 56 per cent.

In addition to this as everyone will have observed when driving along a road there are many signs saying, "Bed and Breakfast". This type of accommodation is not registered with Bord Fáilte. Indeed, when passing such houses in the morning one notices that it is not just the small cars which are parked outside those houses; there are big cars and obviously the owners of them could easily afford to pay for more opulent hotel accommodation. I understand the reason people go to those places is that there are probably only two or three guests staying in the house, there is a nice homely atmosphere, and the people who own the house make a great fuss of their guests when they arrive. There is none of the hotel regimentation we have nowadays where a person walking into a hotel is merely a number and when he goes to pay his bill they do not even know who he is.

Those small guesthouses are not registered with Bord Fáilte, even though the people who stay in them are very satisfied with them, because the owners do not want Bord Fáilte pestering them with forms to be filled in. They feel that the moment the Bord Fáilte officials walk in the door if the layout of the house does not suit Bord Fáilte's requirements everything has to be changed around. They are also subject to continuous inspections and the owners get fed up with this. I do not think it is at all desirable to provide inferior accommodation. On Shannonside we circulate a list of such places to the various tourist offices, so that if a person is unable to obtain hotel accommodation he can make a choice from this list. Bord Fáilte are against the idea of advertising such places in foreign literature but the accommodation figures as stated in the Minister's speech would be greatly increased if the guesthouses I have mentioned were included.

Certainly, there is a great deal to favour the small family hotel in which the family as a whole can employ themselves in the activities of the hotel and in the off season they can usefully and gainfully carry out improvements in readiness for the following high season. The bigger hotels in strictly tourist areas which are dependent entirely on the tourist season have to recruit whatever staff they are able to get because trained staff will not hang around from the end of September until the season begins again on 1st May for such a limited season. When one goes into an expensive hotel today one is dealing with completely untrained staff. Complaints are made about the charges and about the lack of training which the staff have, but this is not the fault of the staff; they were never trained. The resulting service is abominable and it is giving the hotel industry here a very bad name.

Senator Russell mentioned the question of entertaining tourists. We on Shannonside publish a monthly list of all the entertainments going on in that region during the month. We circulate this list to all the hotels and registered accommodation houses. This is of great assistance to tourists because they know from day to day what they can do.

Senator Russell has said that the cottage scheme was initiated by Shannonside. An up and coming development association at Ballyvaughan carried out a survey in that area and succeeded in collecting about 30 per cent of the capital required for the promotion of the cottage scheme. From memory I think that Clare County Council guaranteed a loan of another 30 per cent. That gave us 60 per cent. I think Shannonside, through the aegis of Bord Fáilte, provided another 30 per cent, and the Shannon Development Company who did most of the administrative work provided 10 per cent. These were the four main groups involved. The people in the area were the people who took this effort off the ground. Without the local subscriptions I do not think the scheme would ever have succeeded. There is now a registered company and the people who participated in the financing of it are shareholders in their own right. It is not a problem of Bord Fáilte. They just participated. The main ingredient was the desire by the local people to have development in the area. They were the people who put up their own money and promoted the scheme.

There is one aspect of tourism which perplexes me. Much accommodation has been unoccupied in the country this year for various reasons. Side by side with that I know that practically every travel agency at the moment is engaged in a most vigorous campaign to induce people to take their holidays outside the country from September onwards. We have accommodation available here while these efforts are being made by the carriers, the travel agencies and others to mount the biggest campaign ever to get more people to leave the country on holidays and to spend their money abroad. One hotel in Kilkee cut its charges. It is the Atlantic Hotel. It offered special rates to Irish people. That is the only effort that I know of. I have seen figures which I would not like to quote here because I doubt their veracity. Undoubtedly, if the Irish hoteliers and Bord Fáilte had been alive to the situation and had offered cheaper accommodation there must have been £20 million easily available to be picked up. Most people would prefer to spend their holidays here at reasonable rates. Unfortunately, no one seems to want Irish people in the hotels during the high season.

Next September we will see charter planes leaving Shannon, Dublin and Cork and flying south while we are debating the state of the tourist industry. No blame can be attached to Bord Fáilte or anyone else. A number of the causes for the recession in tourism this year were not predictable. By the time it became known that the situation was deteriorating it had gone beyond the point of return and nothing could be done about it. I am satisfied that the money which it is proposed to give to Bord Fáilte will provide the necessary growth element because one cannot have growth without finance. It would be sad to think that because we had one reverse we would order the development of tourism to stand still. Everyone prognosticates that this is a growing industry. It is anticipated by everyone who has knowledge of the problem that with the various changes in world conditions this is a growing industry and that we would be foolish because of one year of recession to order everything to stand still until we see what happens next year. This could prove to be a very valuable year for the tourist industry. When Bord Fáilte are considering the expenditure of money for accommodation they should keep in mind the necessity for providing accommodation within the means of reasonable people and should see that there will be accommodation with some little national touch where people could go and feel welcome and appreciated and could have their needs attended to. From such accommodation people should be sent away feeling that they would like to come back again.

In debating this Bill today we are in fact discussing the second most important industry that the country has, agriculture clearly being the first. If my understanding of the figures is correct, our income in 1959 from tourism amounted to one-quarter of the total exports of merchandise or goods. This is very significant. The rate of growth of tourism between 1959 and 1969 proceeded faster than the rate of growth in the economy generally in real terms. In the current issue of Management there is an interesting article by a Mr. Tony Kelly on this subject. Dr. O'Driscoll is quoted as saying that there has been in the past ten years a 70 per cent increase in the volume of tourism. That indicates the importance of the theme we are discussing today. These figures must be reconsidered in the light of the very unhappy season which tourism is experiencing this year. While it may not be absolutely true to say that every hotel will show a fall in profits, it is true to say that every hotel which made a rational calculation of what its profits would be this year will show a downfall on the predictions of its returns.

I am aware of quite sophisticated calculations which were made this year, which are now being revised, and which show approximately a fall of one-third of the expectations. We have come to the point where we must recognise that what really benefited us in the previous ten years was our relatively advantageous price level. We have now got to live with the new situation. I think it is right to say that, as I shall be making one or two criticisms of Bord Fáilte in my remarks, in fact I would accept essentially the statement by this writer in a very well informed article indeed on tourism that only reached me yesterday morning. He says "In the main the industry is satisfied that the work of Bord Fáilte in the field with very limited resources has made fantastic headway."

Then there is elsewhere a reference to the very high success marketing-wise in America and in England, and also tribute is given to them for their work in relation to the car ferry services, the tidy towns competition and other recent developments. I say this preliminary to making some criticisms which I think it is necessary to make and some of which appear from the Minister's own statement in introducing this measure. There has been a miscalculation as to the amount of money which should have been provided in relation to other monetary provision by Bord Fáilte for the expansion of hotel accommodation. I think that the mistake here was to provide hotel accommodation without regard to the necessity to see that side by side with the financing of the additional accommodation was a scheme for generating business to use that accommodation. In addition a most important part of that is the inadequate funds which have been provided in the matter of training management, in particular middle management. This is the point at which the hotel discloses its efficiency or not: mid-management personnel. I am thinking of the chief receptionist, the head waiter, the chef, the general supervisor. It is the quality and training that these people possess which in fact determine the service given generally by the hotel, because if they are not trained adequately and are not up to the job they have to do they cannot train adequately, organise and discipline all the other workers in the hotel, and ensure that guests get the service they must get if they are to get value for the money they pay.

It is agreed that there is evidence of an excessive provision of bed accommodation in the fact that bed occupancy has dropped, as this article says, by 5 per cent from 53 per cent in 1968, if this calculation is correct, and I read it as being a well informed article. I know—I have been given this from a very informed source—that the bed occupancy figure in the United States of America would run to something of the order of 79 or 80 per cent.

This of course is a very heavy burden for the industry to carry, which leads me to this next question of the prices they charge and the suggestion that they engage in profiteering. I am bound to say that I am sure there is an exception here and there—this is an inevitable feature of the human race, and I am not saying that there is not—but I think that a general charge of profiteering against hoteliers is not well justified. In the last 12 months or less than 12 months the prices and costs of things that hotels have had to buy to provide the services they give have gone up in the order of 10 to 25 per cent over a whole range of goods and of course the hotel must have a heavy mark-up on those costs to make a reasonable return on its capital and skill and risk taken by the provider of that capital, and the order of 50 per cent is the normal figure. The ordinary hotel has to carry heavy stocks, and the capital tied up in that way has to be remunerated also, and this must be reflected in the prices they charge out.

I caused a short examination to be made of two public companies whose accounts are available to be looked at. They were the Gresham Hotel, which shows a return of 10 per cent on the capital employed according to their own published figure for the last year, and that is counting the grant; and Ryans, which reported 8½ per cent, which is equivalent to a return of 11 per cent if you ignore the grant. In fact the comparative out-turn after tax if you compare the two shows a much more favourable position for Ryans because of the amount of money invested in new buildings by Ryans compared with the relatively small amount invested in new buildings by the Gresham, and the result of that is that the after-tax position is in fact much better in Ryans. But just look at these figures. I do not regard returns of this kind on taking risks as excessive. If you can put your money down on deposit receipt and at certain periods of this year get 10 per cent if you take risks, and if at the end of a season's activity with your capital locked up you get 11 per cent, I do not think that this is really excessive, though there may be different views on it.

Whether or not we have had this problem caused this year, and whether or not we should have had a better reaction to it—I think in retrospect that perhaps we can say that we should have—I do not think I could go as far as my colleague did in criticising the Minister and the board on this, because it is like being invited to a party and told that nobody is going. It does not encourage you to go to the party if you hear this.

That is precisely my thinking in the matter.

I know that this would explain the reluctance to admit publicly that this was the situation, but I do not think this excuses the Minister or the board from activating at private level the Hotels Federation and the people involved in the industry to see what could be done about dealing with this problem which arose in this season. That is just a comment on that.

There are a few points I want to make which perhaps are peculiar to the House but still I think that they have not been made so far and thus perhaps I should make them now. First I think that in this whole tourist development the question of the cost of transportation should be kept constantly in mind. If we are competing now for the British tourist, he can get a holiday including accommodation in Spain for eight days for 40 guineas, and if he wants to fly to Belfast for a holiday he will get there from London for £15. I do not know that the distances are all that different between London to Belfast and London to Dublin, but if he wants to come to Dublin I think that the figure is £21. I am aware of the cost of the short haul and the difficulty of Aer Lingus in balancing its own budget and its dependence to a degree on the feed-in of passengers from Aer Línte, but the question is worth considering whether in the context of the new difficulties which have arisen through price resistance by the tourist, this large charge for the London flight does not reflect some type of taxation on the man coming from London to cover losses that have been sustained on other routes, and whether such taxation of our exports and the tourist service is justifiable. The question should be under constant examination.

At the risk of my life in Limerick city, I say that the whole question of transatlantic overflying of Shannon should be kept under constant examination. Times change the effects of policies and there may come a time when it will be decided that the overriding interests of the tourist industry here and consequently of the economy would best be served by an overfly of Shannon. It would be dishonest not to mention that as a point relevant to what we are discussing today.

Once more, our licensing laws might be looked at to see whether any revision is necessary to facilitate the tourist industry. I will give the House one example. Take the case of a conference in a Dublin hotel—it could be anywhere in the country. Only those who are residing in the hotel are, after a certain point of time, entitled to be served with a drink. I am not an expert on the licensing laws but I understand that if you take a substantial meal you can get served with a drink up to 12.30 a.m. but even if you have a substantial meal you cannot be served after 12.30. I suggest there should be a revision of the licensing laws to provide for this.

Recently, a national tourist council was formed representative of all the different sectors and there ought to be an energising of that body so that we could achieve a cross-pollination of ideas between such bodies as Aer Lingus, Bord Fáilte, CIE and the Hotels Federation.

Senator Honan described the situation that exists in the Shannon area but which to my knowledge does not exist elsewhere. There, he said, there is a deliberate local policy of making visitors aware of the things to be done that day, that week, that month—the places to be visited, the antiquities to be enjoyed. This is not true of the country generally. I have known tourists living in hotels here, who are not of the passive kind, who wanted to get boats, who wanted to fish, but nobody could tell them what to do about it. We should try here to build up an information service of this kind on a countrywide basis.

If I am abroad I always welcome some information about the history of the locality in which I am living temporarily. In some tourist regions one cannot find any sense of local history at all; it has been dissipated. Here we have got something which in the most popular tourist regions of the Continent they have not got. We have a varied and unusual type of culture which is attractive and which could be exploited, if you like to use that word, for the material benefit of our people.

Another provision in the Bill which I welcome is the reference to the registration of approved holiday cottages. My last point will be that the Minister should consider very carefully the idea of putting Bord Fáilte in funds sufficiently to improve the training programme and also that he should work out at departmental level with that body some understanding as to the long-term provisions that would be available to them, other things being equal, in the matter of marketing tourism throughout the world.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an mBille, a cuirfí breis airgid ar fáil don tionscal tábhachtach seo. Ba mhaith liom freisin cúpla focal molta a rá faoi Bord Fáilte as ucht an obair atá déanta acu ar feadh deich mbliain anuas.

Tourism is now our second greatest industry whose benefits penetrate into the remotest areas of the country, spread over many sections of the community. Therefore, I welcome this Bill which provides further capital for this great industry. I wish also to compliment Bord Fáilte for the great job they have done and the very sensible way they have utilised the money they have been given.

In their early days, Bord Fáilte had only one-tenth of the money they now get but they found it very difficult at that time to get owners of hotels and guesthouses to avail of the small amount then available. However, they did such a good selling job that now we have not enough money to meet demands for the provision of extra accommodation, extra amenities, recreation centres and so on.

At this point I should like to say that we have gone far enough with the provision of the larger type hotel. I think there should be a clamp down on the building of more large hotels or the extension of the bigger existing hotels, and that we should move to a consolidation period, if you like to put it that way, and follow up with the provision of more amenities and recreational facilities. I know areas where big projects were started in the early days of Bord Fáilte promotions but they are not yet finished. There are many of those "unfinished symphonies" all over the country and I should like to see a diversion from large hotel grants to the finishing of those projects.

We all know that the pattern of tourism has changed greatly. You have now the mobile tourist and, as Senator Honan said, many of our seaside bungalows and guesthouses are now reaping the benefits. We also have more young people and more of the middleincome group taking holidays here and we should try to organise our facilities to cater more and more for such people. Caravaning is become more popular and I do not know if Bord Fáilte are sufficiently generous in giving grants towards the provision of caravan sites. In this context I should like to see those responsible for the caravan sites established before the grant period availing of grants to improve their sites. There is a great danger that those sites will become new slum areas. They need good supervision and Bord Fáilte should make an all-out effort to get all the early-established caravan park owners to provide better amenities, better lighting and supervision.

The rent-a-cottage scheme has been welcomed by many Senators. We all know this will bring tourists into areas which otherwise would not see a tourist at all. Side by side with this scheme I hope to see facilities for entertainment and recreation being provided. I know local people will be wise enough to organise them. Another thing I welcome is the registration of summer houses. For too long those summer houses have been neglected and there should be a certain standard and a register of those houses, especially in seaside areas.

Somebody mentioned the training of staff for hotels and said that it has not gone hand in hand with the extra hotel accommodation. I thoroughly agree. We know a certain amount of work is being done in this field but I am afraid it is not sufficient to keep pace with the expansion of hotel accommodation. I urge a crash course in such training in tourist centres. Perhaps we could have some courses on television. The training of hotel staff has not kept pace with the expansion of the industry. That again is another consolidation area, as I have mentioned previously.

At one time I asked Bord Fáilte to issue booklets with advice to hotels and guesthouses. However, I have not seen any such booklets. Another message we should get across is that everybody is involved in this industry to some extent even to the person on the side of the road who gives a direction to a tourist. If that person makes an impression on the tourist by his friendly manner, that will be remembered long after the lakes of Killarney have been forgotten. The personal aspect is of great importance in this industry. There has been some moaning about the decrease in tourist traffic this year. I must say that I have not noticed any falling off in my area. Perhaps the reason for this is that we have geared our tourist business towards the Irish tourist. Perhaps more effort in this direction should be made in other areas.

They will always go to Ballybunion.

When people come to visit us from other countries they do not wish to find a pale image of any other country. Therefore, our entertainment should have a more Irish flavour so that it might be more attractive to the tourist.

The Irish flavour costs a shilling a pint more here than in England.

In this respect I must compliment Fr. Aherne and the group in Tralee who are doing wonderful work in this direction. They have set a wonderful example as to what can be done and I would recommend that anybody visiting Tralee should make sure that he sees the Siamsa.

On the question of farm guesthouses, the Irish Country Women's Association have played a major part in promoting this type of accommodation and more and more such accommodation is becoming available all over the country.

These, then, are just some points I wished to make on this Bill but in conclusion I should like to refer to the family hotels. These family hotels have the advantage of having personnel who, usually, do not change from year to year as is the case in hotels who may employ staff for about three months of the year usually at seaside resorts. Many of the staff employed in these hotels are secondary school students who have had no training whatsoever in this type of work. Therefore, I would suggest that with those temporary staff in mind there might be arranged some type of crash course. I welcome the Bill and I hope that each one of us will play his or her part in ensuring the continuing success of this major industry.

I, too, welcome this Bill as I welcome anything being done to improve this very important industry. Tourism, like Telefís Éireann or the film industry is a subject about which everybody has something to say but I do not intend speaking for the sake of hearing my own voice. Rather, I want simply to put before the House and the Minister a few obtruse reflections—by obtruse I mean in the sense that they might not ordinarily be discussed in a debate of this kind—to which we should pay some attention.

Tourism and conservation, I need hardly remind the House, go hand in hand. If we fail in our efforts at conservation in Ireland we shall fail also in our efforts in relation to tourism. People will not come from abroad, least of all from Germany, to see a country whose towns and villages are country deserts and whose countryside has been defiled. I have no wish to labour this theme and least of all do I wish to give the impression that Bord Fáilte have not played their part in trying to make sure that this does not happen.

My own experience of Bord Fáilte is that they are concerned with conservation and with the preservation of the Irish countryside. Their concern is noticeably greater in this regard than is the concern of Government Departments such as the Department of Local Government and the Office of Public Works whose power of control in these matters is much greater than is the power of Bord Fáilte.

I remember an incident of about seven or eight years ago when details appeared in the newspapers of a plan that had been drawn up, apparently without asking anybody, between Bord Fáilte and the Irish Life Assurance Company whose building is across the canal from them. The plans were to turn that strip of the canal into a concrete shapeless park. There is no other way to describe it. At the time I wrote a letter to the Irish Times complaining about this piece of vandalism and, to the very great credit of Bord Fáilte, I received a very polite letter from the director saying that what I had written made him view the thing in a different light. He asked if I would give him a more detailed view of how I thought this strip should be handled. That part of the canal was preserved and while I am not claiming all the credit for it, I think I must be entitled to at least some credit. That particular part of the canal is now a very pleasant feature of this city.

To me, that was an indication of Bord Fáilte's interest in conservation and in trying to maintain the attractions of our city and countryside. Another indication of the board's concern in this regard is their excellent publication Ireland of the Welcomes. This is a very fine publication indeed. It appeared first in 1952 or 1953 at a time when we were ignorant about such matters. It has maintained a consistently high standard, editorially, photographically and typographically. Bord Fáilte deserve the greatest credit for that publication.

To get back to the board's concern with the preservation of our amenities and their protection from spoliation— this is the reason why I believe Bord Fáilte should have more power and more money because when somebody is willing to do a job they should be allowed to get on with it. The board should be given more power to prevent spoliation of the Irish towns and countryside and the Department of Local Government and the Office of Public Works should show themselves to be interested generally in this.

Business suspended at 1 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.

I would remind the House that we are discussing the motion with this Bill.

Has the motion been moved?

It will be moved after the Bill has been passed. The Transport Act, 1950 (Additional Powers) Order is being discussed with this Bill.

Before the luncheon adjournment I said that tourism and conservation went hand in hand. My objective in saying this was to give myself the opportunity to praise Bord Fáilte for the consistent interest it has shown in the whole subject of conservation, long before anyone knew what that word meant and certainly at a time when to recommend conserving things was neither popular nor profitable. I believe that a person or a body that shows an interest in a job should be given responsibility for doing that job; and Bord Fáilte ought to be given more powers than it has to protect our towns and countryside against decay and spoliation. I have in mind both decay in the general sense and in the small and less easily perceived sense.

The greater part of Dublin city which forms the material for tourist advertising is in a state of decay. The one per cent of the built-up area of Dublin which An Taisce has recommended as deserving total protection, represents a stratum of building which is very old by Irish standards. Much of it goes back to 1780 and beyond and most of it not later than 1820. Wood decays, mortar crumbles, rafters get woodworm and deathwatch beetle in them, slates need renewal, gutters fall in, walls bulge. All these things happen and nothing can stop them. I want to know what plan Bord Fáilte or anyone else has for halting this progressive decay. It is not anyone's fault that these old houses are decaying; it is the natural consequence of wind and weather.

The issue of Ireland of the Welcomes for July and August of this year is a special Conservation Year issue. There is an article in it by Kevin Fox on the problems of town planning in Dublin. That article is illustrated by several attractive photographs. One of these shows the vista of Upper Mount Street leading to the so-called pepper canister church. It is a street, I know, which has noble associations for those on the other side of the House. I would like to know if, when they walk up that street to fight with one another, they ever look at the first six or eight houses on the left-hand side. These houses are in an advanced state of decay. It is a sad thing that a Bord Fáilte publication of this excellent standard, issued in commemoration of Conservation Year, should print a photograph of this beautiful street which, if one could look at it a little bit closer, could be seen to be within a short distance of falling down.

I know it costs money to maintain these old houses. Many of the buildings in Upper Mount Street, as Members on the far side of the House who have more opportunities for observing than I have will know, are approaching tenement conditions. They have all the indicia of tenements: the open hall door with children playing inside on the steps. That street is not going to last much longer unless a great deal of money is spent on it. The same can be said for many of the houses in Merrion Square, Fitzwilliam Square, Fitzwilliam Street, Merrion Street and other parts of this little fraction of 1 per cent. Where is the money going to come from? I do not pretend, and Fine Gael does not pretend, it can be conjured out of a hat, but it has got to come from somewhere, otherwise we can write off Dublin as a tourist centre. There is nothing else worth seeing in Dublin.

We will not get people from London or Manchester, let alone Oslo or Florence, to come and look at the sprawl of suburbs we have built up around us over the last 30 or 40 years. They have suburbs like that themselves. There is nothing in Walkinstown to induce a man from Manchester to come and look at it. He has suburbs like that himself. The only thing in Dublin worth looking at is the small proportion of the total area covered by buildings of this kind, which unfortunately are old and expensive to maintain. I am not trying to make a political point, because I know we all have the interests of this industry at heart; but the Government have not faced up to the problem, neither has the Department of Local Government. The kind of grants available for repairs are not enough to deal with repairs on very large houses. A few days ago an architect published his view that the maintenance of this core of old Dublin would cost about £50 million for a start. I am not qualified to say whether this figure is excessive, but, if it is correct, and if we are going to maintain Dublin as a tourist attraction, we are going to have to find that £50 million. When Deputy Boland was confronted with the problem as Minister for Local Government he said that for him the needs of the people came first and the social priorities which he recognised involved putting ordinary housing for ordinary people at the top of the list. I do not dissent from that priority at all and I respect a man who says that people come first and old houses and beautiful views second. But I ask the House, how is it that in other countries, with limited resources, they seem to be able to do both? They seem to be able both to house their people and to preserve their buildings which need preservation, without undue complaints that the taxpayer is being beggared?

I am not an expert on this, although I have spoken on the matter before. I urge the Government, in the person of the Minister, and the members of his party who are listening to me to face up to this problem. Fine Gael will not complain if we are told that the Government will be looking for money to halt the decay of public amenities. We are not against the idea.

I am not speaking about the Dublin area alone. The decay in urban Dublin, and the threat to its tourist potential, of course needs publicity. But I am not so much of a jackeen as not to know that there are urban amenities elsewhere in Ireland which are equally threatened. There are houses in Limerick, Cork, Kilkenny, Clonmel, Waterford and in other places which deserve protection as much as Fitzwilliam Square or Merrion Street. I am looking for some overall plan for dealing with the progressive decay in these buildings.

In the Netherlands, which of course is a richer country than Ireland, the cost of maintaining old buildings which are important to the tourist industry is split between the State, the city and the owner in roughly equal proportions. Speaking from memory, I think that the State bears 40 per cent, the city 30 per cent and the owner 30 per cent of the cost involved. I do not know whether a system of that kind would suit us; it would involve a heavy charge on rates and central taxation. But what other idea can we find? I am not trying to make political capital out of this; I admit that Fine Gael have not a policy for this either. But we urge the Government to consider this question, because every day that goes by means that the work will cost more eventually. Every month that goes by will mean more expense in the end. It will mean expense, or else the disappearance from the tourist map of the capital city of Dublin.

One per cent of Dublin and the corresponding small proportion of other Irish towns which are tourist amenities represent strata of the late 18th century or early 19th century buildings. We are looking at urban amenities through the eyes of a particular era. Our children and grandchildren may think much of buildings we do not bother about now. There are many buildings in the older suburbs which are Victorian, that were built in the mid-or late- 19th century or perhaps early in the 20th century but to which we attach no importance. Our children may find these buildings of extreme interest. The same applies to buildings of a similar type in Cork, Limerick and elsewhere. While I am not suggesting that we should load the State with the job of maintaining every building in the country, we must bear in mind that the perspective of the people will change. Buildings will become interesting and views will become precious which were not previously thought to be so. Buildings and streets were broken up in the past which, if we still had the opportunities, we should probably take great care to preserve now. I urge on the Government to consider the question of constant urban renewal and preservation, and not merely to provide houses for the people to live in, but for the purpose of preserving for posterity those aspects of our cities and towns, which we may expect will be enjoyed and by which our descendants' lives may be enriched.

The decay I spoke about in the general sense in regard to the major buildings of Dublin and other Irish towns is a serious threat to the potential of these towns as tourist attractions. It is not the only kind of decay which Bord Fáilte should examine carefully. Side by side with the decay in the actual brick-work, et cetera, there is decay in something which a disinterested or inexpert eye may travel over without looking at, and that is decay in the detail of the street-scapes and town-scapes.

Street furniture is a subject which is rarely spoken about. Our street furniture is becoming as ugly as it is possible for street furniture to be. Our bus stops and litter bins are unattractive; our parking meters are unattractive. Possibly this is unavoidable, but there are details of street furniture of periods gone by which are decaying very rapidly, although they are an integral part of the appearance of the street as originally designed.

We Irish are a people greatly given to regarding ourselves as a more spiritually conditioned people than others, as a people with a better perception of eternal values and less enveloped by materialism. I find this a repellent piece of hypocrisy. It is undoubtedly an attitude which is less common nowadays than it used to be, but I think it is repellent because all the evidence of our eyes, if it is not entirely to the contrary, certainly does not bear out that contention. You can go to a pagan city like Paris, and over there, without any of the spiritual advantages of the Irish, you will find that they are not ashamed or afraid to preserve details of an aesthetic kind and to spend money and forgo perhaps considerations of efficiency in maintaining them. You can observe in the streets of Paris and Rome and other continental cities how much care is taken to preserve the street lamps in the condition in which they were when they were first put up in the 1860s, the 1870s or the 1880s. No such care is taken in Dublin.

There is one kind of street lamp peculiar to Dublin which is shaped rather like a bishop's crook with a motif of shamrocks in the curve. That is peculiar to Dublin. I do not know when they were put up; I think it was at the beginning of this century. These lamps are very graceful and certainly deserve preservation; but in many cases the old lamps are being ripped down and replaced with concrete monstrosities—I am sorry not to be able to think of a more forcible word. Unsuitable modern lamps have been placed even on the top of the 19th century standards, where the shaft of the old lamp has been preserved. The old lamps have been replaced by modern ones entirely unsuited to the shape of the standards. These are details which I am sorry to trouble the House with, but they do go to make up the kind of picture of the city that somebody seeking to maintain Dublin or any other Irish city as a tourist attraction must be concerned with.

A member of this House who wishes to see for himself what I am talking about need only step out to Leinster Lawn, where he will find, on the way out to Merrion Street that the lamp you reach before the gates on the right hand side, clearly originally designed to carry a lantern of Victorian type, has been barbarised by the replacement of the old Victorian lamp, which no doubt had to be taken down, by a wretched little German lamp six inches tall with yellow glass in it, the kind of thing that you would find outside a bijou residence in Munich built in the '30s or '40s—an appalling demonstration of lack of taste by the Office of Public Works or whoever is responsible for the installations of this House. If you go as far as the gates to Merrion Street you will find that the lamps on top of them have been removed. I do not know what they were like, and I have no information on what is going to replace them, but if it is going to be anything like the little yellow monstrosity on the way out to the gate, it would be far better to leave the pillars alone than to replace those lamps.

Wherever you go in Dublin it is the same story with regard to lamps, regarded by many simple people as objects of a certain romantic and aesthetic interest and as an amenity. Heuston Station, Kingsbridge, is an example of a beautiful building, dating from about the middle 1840s, which was surrounded by a railing on which at intervals there were a very fine series of Victorian lamps, but one by one they are disappearing. I know that iron has a limited lifetime, that it rusts away and it must be removed, but when I see these iron lamps being replaced by apologies for lamps I cannot see why they cannot be replaced by something which will look like the original.

Ballsbridge is another example. Travel towards the Royal Dublin Society showgrounds or towards Dún Laoghaire, and beside the Bank of Ireland there are on each side of the bridge four very unusual globular lamps, every single one of which is in an advanced stage of decay. I have written to Bord Fáilte about this, and I know that they are interested, though I do not know what they can do about it. The shafts of those lamps are rusted and broken, they are leaning, bits of the little spikes on top of them have been broken and are missing. Sooner or later we will find that that little amenity which has given perhaps unconscious pleasure to thousands and thousands of people throughout their lives will go. I know that we will then be told that they were in such a state that the decay was too far advanced to be worth repairing or that it was impossible anyway to replace them. I realise that this problem exists. You cannot just order a Victorian lamp like you can order a pound of butter, but let us face this thing squarely just like the problem of large-scale conservation. If we are prepared to let our old street furniture go let us be done with it and let us clear away the whole lot of it, but if we decide not to let this happen then Bord Fáilte or any other Government agency that may be interested in the matter will have no alternative but to do what they do in other countries, namely to set up its own iron foundry or workshops to produce proper replicas.

I will not hold up the House by going through the various items of street furniture in the city which are in a state of decay and need renewal, but before I leave this there are one or two other items that I want to mention. The railings surrounding Dublin houses of the 18th or early 19th century are now equally in a state of decay for the same reason. There is a characteristic Dublin railing with an urn on top of it every ten or 12 feet, and these are now in many cases in a state of decay and are disappearing. Another point is the door furniture, in other words the knocker and the knob, which is a distinctive feature of the 18th or early 19th century, but in many houses these are now missing— again it is not only by any means from private houses, but from State-owned houses and houses owned by semi-State bodies, who in some respects are the worst offenders in this regard. Before the ESB pulled down the houses in Lower Merrion Street they had removed the door furniture from every one of these, presumably to stop people from going up and knocking on them. This was a piece of small-scale barbarity—now replaced by a piece of large-scale barbarity—such as a State-owned body ought not to be guilty of.

If you walk along Harcourt Street, which to my mind is one of the most beautiful streets in Dublin, it is hard to understand that it is not included in the 1 per cent scheduled for total preservation. It is something unique, with its long gentle curve and perfect slope. If you walk down that street you will find many instances of defects, decay and spoliation. There are doorways being taken out and replaced by cheap modern doors of the mass produced form which were utilised in the '30s and the '40s. That is not the only thing. Some of the original solid granite steps have been covered over by shiny bathroom tiles. It seems to me to be hopeless to talk about Dublin as an attraction to our tourists when we are allowing so much of it fall into this kind of decay. We have these lovely places like Warrington Place and Upper Mount Street, of which this issue of Ireland of the Welcomes contains these beautiful photographs which would appeal to anybody from any part of the world, and yet the whole thing is in an advanced state of decay and there is no effort being made, no plan, to prevent it from going further.

In speaking about these things I am speaking mainly about Dublin because I have lived here all my life and I know more about it, but I know that the same applies to every other town in Ireland and many even of the small towns and villages. This is something with which Bord Fáilte have been concerned for so long as they have been in existence. They were concerned with it at the time when no one else was concerned. I urge the Minister to consider whether the Bord Fáilte powers could not be so extended as to enable them to spot decay of this kind when it occurs and to see that it does not go any further. Perhaps Bord Fáilte might not wish to be turned into a sort of cultural police body, but something must be done to ensure that we do not let this city or any Irish town run down.

It is like the National Museum issue on which we had a debate here last month. A crowd of Balubas in charge of the place would not have allowed it to deteriorate into such a state as we have done since securing independence 50 years ago. Are we to do the same with the large-scale urban landscapes we have got? If we are not, let us hear from the Government, who have the power to do something about it. We cannot continue, for example, to have fine granite doorsteps covered over with shoddy tiles, and if the Government decide to do something to police this they will not receive any opposition from me or, I am sure, from anyone on this side of the House.

There are other things Bord Fáilte should show an interest in which are not in a state of decay but which are threatened for commercial reasons of another kind. One of the types of building most characteristic of Ireland was the elegant decor of our old publichouses. The reasons for their grandeur were probably social reasons, probably reflecting the poverty and the misery of the people during past ages when the publichouse was the only place in which a bit of relief and cheer could be found. A lot of work and imagination went into the decor, external and internal, of Irish publichouses which were distinguishable from those in England and elsewhere by the striking, but by no means vulgar, decor which their owners applied to them.

Members of the House may not have given this much thought, but it has struck me in recent years that the number of publichouses with the old-style facia boards bearing the name in gold on a red background is rapidly going down. There was a time when most publichouses had this decor—a window made null and void by a mirror inside with the name of a distiller and, overhead, this facia board. That is becoming very rare. I am not in favour of turning Bord Fáilte into a cultural police force, but some kind of formal power should be given to them to prevent people who occupy such buildings——

The Senator is right. They are going up in New York.

Everything changes, with due respect to the Minister and the Senator.

Another aspect of publichouse decor which was characteristic of Ireland, which attracted interest and which was beautiful in itself, more in the country than in the city, was the gable wall. At one time when the quality of drink varied from publichouse to publichouse, the gable bore legends such as "Noted House For Best Drinks". There was a system whereby the individual blocks of which the house was built—they might be plastered over—were painted in varying shades of grey; the blocks were divided obliquely into four and shaded so as to give the impression that the blocks were of dressed stone. Of course it was a sham, a pious fraud but it had an effect which was peculiar to this country. I have never seen it anywhere else.

I agree that people who own publichouses must be allowed a fair degree of liberty in respect of their own property, but it is a pity to see these things going out without protest or interference. I think, therefore, that Bord Fáilte ought to be given some power, even a power of inducement by paying for the restoration of old publichouse decor, in order to get people who own shops of that kind to maintain them as they were. It is tragic to see streetscapes being ruined by importations from England, to see the way facia boards are covered over with laths and cheap plastic signs. In Galway last week I saw a publichouse, an ordinary decent house of the kind common in Galway, covered over with a mock Tudor boarding of a kind of you would get in a pub in Twickenham.

As I have said, I am not in favour of policing people or forcing them to do certain things with their own property but I am in favour of Bord Fáilte being given some powers of persuasion or inducement and thereby preserving some of the traditions we should be proud of. This country is becoming less and less a country anybody would wish to come to see. Nothing gives me greater personal pleasure than to see a person from abroad coming here and enjoying himself and liking what he sees. But I see, unfortunately, every day, that the elements in this country which attract and amuse the native or the foreign eye disappearing, being literally plastered over by shoddy vulgarity and tawdry forms of building and decor, commercially inspired.

I have been speaking about urban amenities. There are two or three other topics I wish to deal with briefly. The first is the state of our foreshores at some of the tourist resorts near Dublin. This has been well thrashed out and I will not waste the time of the House by going into it deeply. I should like however to refer to the foreshore at Dún Laoghaire, in particular the Forty Foot. On one occasion recently when I was at a meeting here in Leinster House lasting from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the heat-wave in June, I felt afterwards that I needed a swim at the Forty Foot. I went there for a swim to find that you would need to be an animal of some kind to go in. There was nothing there but a sheet of pollution, and visitors were standing there looking at it in dismay. That is what we are offering as seaside amenities. I urge the Minister to bring his influence to bear to make sure that this appalling disamenity will be cleaned up quickly.

In regard to amenities in the country generally, I should like to pay a tribute to the small towns in the countryside. It must be said that the Tidy Towns competition has been a colossal success. It is hard to believe that some of the towns in Ireland were once, twenty years ago, a succession of unrelieved grey concrete, limestone, grey concrete again varied only by the garish colours of a petrol filling station. Now they have pastel washes applied to them, there are trees everywhere and the town are most agreeable to the eye. The people who have brought this about, and who have done it with no publicity, deserve our greatest admiration. It is a joy to drive through a little place such as Tyrellspass or some other such attractive town or village. However, it seems to me deplorable that when so much trouble has been taken in the efforts to make these towns and villages so attractive that these efforts should be frustrated by the sight of ESB poles and wires all over the place.

To take the town of Athy for instance—this is a good-sized unpretentious and prosperous town and a town which I consider to be very attractive but, unfortunately, its attractiveness and potential attractiveness is diminished by elecric wires running from one end of the town to the other. I realise that it is more expensive to carry electricity underground rather than to carry it on poles but the poles system of carrying power is primitive. The sight of these things reminds me of the Abilene Junction or of Tombstone, Arizona. It is the Wild West system of carrying electricity. I know that the Minister is conscious of this and I hope that he will outline what he has in mind for the future.

Another matter to which I should like to refer is the lack of proper rubbish collection facilities in towns and villages all over the country. I have no wish to go into personal experiences in this debate but I shall give the House one example of what I have in mind. I have only returned with my family from a holiday in Connemara where, with another family, we rented a house. We were told by the landlord that the way to dispose of rubbish was to burn it. The village where we stayed is a renowned tourist one. We were to burn refuse in a incinerator which was a converted ashcan at the back of the house. The landlord told us that people across the way had dumped rubbish into the sea as a result of which the foreshore was polluted as was plain to be seen. We spent many man hours of that holiday in endeavouring to dispose of rubbish—probably more than any other family would have spent on such exercise. We burned as much rubbish as we could but there were items such as cans and partly disposable nappies that would not burn. These we bundled together, put into the boots of the cars and drove some three or four miles out until we came to a bog. There we dumped the rubbish in a bog hole but I cannot describe how foul the bog looked after we had done that. However, we had no alternative. When I saw the bog I knew that it was a place where sportsmen would be likely to walk or any others but we had no other way out. The nearest county council dump was 20 miles away in Clifden and I do not think anyone would suggest that the refuse of a house could be brought a distance of 20 miles in a private car.

I am aware that Bord Fáilte are anxious to prevent dumping but this will not be possible until proper collection facilities are provided. We depend to a large extent on tourism and a county council who do not provide these facilities are asking for trouble. I need hardly go further than that.

I am sorry for having detained the House. As Senators are aware I seldom speak for more than 20 minutes but before concluding I must say a few words about the prices charged in hotels. It is agreed that the high prices in Irish hotels and restaurants have been a contributory factor in the slow progress—perhaps even the decline this year in the tourist industry. I do not quite know what the solution is but it is clear that many hotels are in financial difficulties. I cannot understand why this should be so. An Irish person can go on an all-in trip to Rome or Athens for about £70 but it will probably cost a Roman or an Athenian three times that amount to come to Ireland. I do not know what is the reason for these high charges. I heard Senator Alexis FitzGerald refer before lunch to the Ryan group here. I do not suppose that there are many points on which Mr. Ryan and I would agree but if he can make a profit out of the way he runs his hotels, more power to him. During my trip around the country in an effort to gain a seat in this House, I stayed in different hotels where I paid £3 or £4 each night but one night when I stayed at one of the Ryan Hotels I was charged only £1 for a room with bath. This was at the height of the season. Perhaps I am giving a boost now to the Ryan group but if he can do that and still make a profit I cannot understand why others charge so much. Why should he be the exception?

The question of restaurants is a different one. It is bad for the tourist industry that there should be virtually no restaurant in the city of Dublin where a tourist would wish to have lunch except hotel restaurants and these are geared to the profit expectation of the hotel itself and are out of reach of anything that the ordinary tourist can afford.


Hear, hear.

I was invited to lunch recently by a friend and probably for the first time in my life I lunched at the Russell Hotel. I had nothing to drink and my host had half a bottle of wine. Despite his best efforts to avoid letting me see the bill, I noticed that it amounted to £8 6s. It is pointless to expect people to come to this country unless they are millionaires, but, of course, millionaires have other facilities at their disposal and do not come here to be rained out and to have such prices exacted from them.

Perhaps the Minister and his Department might consider that the solution would lie in encouraging in Dublin and other towns the kind of family business restaurants that are common on the Continent. Restaurants here tend to be an appendage to a hotel and are geared to maximum profits which result in these exorbitant prices because, of course, we realise that the hotel overheads are very high. On the Continent most restaurants are run by families. All the human facilities of the family are put to use and great pride is taken in running the business. The sons and daughters serve the meals while the grannies make the soups and so on. They may work ten or 12 hours each day but they are prepared to do that. In this regard perhaps we might give consideration to the fact that the licensing laws do not permit restaurants to have any licence other than a wine licence. I do not know whether the Minister will agree but I think the kind of restaurants operating here with only a wine licence will not get the kind of custom I am talking about. It will get people out for an evening which Irish people do not often do but it will not get a day-in day-out trade. People want to be able to feel that if they want a bottle of beer or a short drink they can have one without paying an enormous price for it.

I realise the whole question of licensing laws is very difficult and all sorts of interests have to be considered. I suggest that the Minister might consider carrying out an experiment and give a general licence to restaurants for a limited period in one town. He can make what conditions he likes about there being no bar service independent of food. Some attempt should be made to develop the kind of all purpose restaurant which exists on the Continent. This is one of the reasons why food there is relatively cheap and relatively good. We hear that prices in France and Germany are inflated, but they are not inflated by Irish standards. When I was a student in Germany 15 years ago I used to have my lunch in a restaurant—an ordinary restaurant, not a student canteen. In this restaurant, as in many other restaurants, there was a system whereby if you were a standing guest and took what they gave you, you got it at a very reasonable price. During my years as a student in Germany I used to lunch every day off the fat of the land for less than 2s 6d. I realise prices have gone up in Germany and one cannot now eat there for less than 10s or 12s, but one can scarcely eat in Dublin for less than 25s. The first step necessary to promote family restaurant businesses is to change the licensing law and give restaurants a general licence instead of merely a wine licence.

Bord Fáilte are trying to encourage international congresses to this country This is an excellent initiative and a well chosen field for expansion. The possibilities for expansion here are almost unlimited. From my own quite large experience of international congresses the kind of person who goes to international congresses is somebody using the congress as an excuse for a few days holiday with his wife.

That is a very cynical view.

I thought I was going to be accused of being naïve. When he comes for a few days he expects to have a good time. His appetite for talking to his colleagues about his subject is not as great as he makes out when he is applying for his grant. Usually three-quarters of his colleagues are separated from him by a language barrier and do not know what he is talking about and do not greatly care. We have to admit that international congresses are simply jamborees and Bord Fáilte are right to recognise this. I justify my own reason for attending international congresses abroad by saying that I am keeping in touch with colleagues so that they will write articles for the journal I edit, and so on, but basically international congresses are social occasions. Bord Fáilte should get help from the Government and the city of Dublin to entertain these guests. I am in the situation of being able to contrast the kind of entertainment offered abroad and the kind of entertainment offered here. The idea running through the minds of people organising congresses in Austria, Germany, France and Italy is that the delegate must never be left without an opportunity to freeload at two meals a day and late in the evening. This is very expensive but they seem to think it pays off.

Bord Fáilte lays on a banquet for any congress that comes here under its aegis. But I remember being at a congress in Vienna for four days in 1966 and I was not allowed to put my hand in my pocket the whole time. I was barely able to struggle out and buy myself an occasional pint of beer or box of cigars. It appeared to me that the intention was to prevent me from spending any money there. I know this is not Bord Fáilte's intention in regard to delegates coming to this country.

I am hosting one in a fortnight's time.

I am glad to hear it. I hope the Minister will invite both sides of the House. They seem to find that it pays them to generate this goodwill even though it might not appear to do so on the surface. The result is that more international congresses are held in Vienna than in any other city in Europe as far as I know. Literally hundreds take place there every year. Now Continentals do not expect the same kind of entertainment as Irish people expect. They are quite happy with a thimble-full of vermouth. They do not need lavish hospitality but they do need constant attention. The important thing is not to let them wander around feeling neglected. I do not believe in preaching its own business to Bord Fáilte, but I make these points because this is an important field, with great potential.

There are physical and financial limitations.

I accept that that is so. But in other countries it seems to pay them to dispense hospitality to these congresses, and if it pays them it should pay us. We should learn by their experience.

I would like to conclude by complimenting Bord Fáilte on all the work it has done and wishing it success in the future. I also want to wish the Minister success in his efforts to help the board.

I welcome this Bill which deals with our most important industry. I want to pay tribute to the Minister's late father Mr. P.J. Lenihan for all the work he did in promoting Athlone and Westmeath. I heard Senator Kelly talk about needing an extra £50 million. I hope the Minister will remember his own home town of Athlone if he ever gets his hands on such a sum. Great efforts have been made to promote tourism in the midlands. Tyrellspass won the Tidy Towns competition and four other villages were high on the list. Various vocational groups have been associated with tourism and every effort should be made to assist them.

Something which we all should have regard to is hotel charges. There is a great danger that very many of our major hotels will price themselves out of the tourist market. I have here a bill which a tourist paid for a small meal. The meal consisted of cold roast beef and salad. The man was charged 14s 9d plus 3s service charge which is a service charge of over 20 per cent. If our hotels continue to pursue that policy there will be many empty diningrooms and bedrooms. I know of five people who stayed in a hotel in the south this year. They stayed overnight and had bed, breakfast and dinner and the bill was £46. These charges are appalling. The results of such charging will be that the tourist will have to look for some other type of accommodation.

It is encouraging to note that the Irish Countrywomen's Association, together with Bord Fáilte, have done so much to promote farm holidays. Farm holidays can be enjoyable for tourists and they can be provided at a reasonable rate. If we have a thriving tourist industry other sections of our economy will benefit also. Agriculture is closely related to tourism. If a farmer can dispose of his produce for the benefit of tourists he will reap rich reward from his efforts and receive good prices for his produce. The Irish Countrywomen's Association have done a great deal to promote these farmhouse holiday schemes. The Minister should do anything he can to help these people.

I welcome the introduction of the cottage holiday scheme. It will be very helpful in my county and in the Minister's own particular area. I ask the Minister to make the scheme a flexible one so as to include grants for schemes of two to five cottages instead of for schemes of ten cottages.

The souvenir industry is important Many traders sell souvenirs from Ireland with "Gift from Killarney,""Gift from Mullingar," or similar captions on them, but on the bottom of the souvenirs one would see "Made in Hong Kong" or "Made in China." Bord Fáilte should examine this. There are small industries in this country which can produce first-quality goods at a competitive price. There are people who want to reap a handsome profit from such industries.

There is a great falling-off in tourist traffic this year. This had to come sooner or later. Life has its ups and downs for us all. It is natural to expect that the tourist industry would have ups and downs. Even if there has been a slight falling off in the early part of this summer it is noticeable that particularly in Dublin there are many tourists. I believe that by the time the tourist season has ended we may not have done as badly as now seems possible. We should redouble our efforts for next year and try to lure more people to this country so that our second greatest industry may continue to thrive as we would all wish.

It is unfortunate that a Bill giving an opportunity for discussion on the tourist trade should come at such a rushed season of the year when everything seems to be piling in on the Seanad and the happenings elsewhere crowd out any worthwhile reference to Seanad proceedings in the national press. It is deplorable and disgraceful the way the proceedings of Seanad Éireann are treated by our national press. The position is deteriorating daily. I found that the Finance Bill discussions in the Seanad yesterday rated no reference at all in one paper calling itself the national paper. I refer to the Irish Independent. There was no reference to the contributions made here in the Irish Press. Seanad Éireann should try to do something about this. Serious contributions are made here. If Seanad Éireann is endeavouring to make some contribution to formulating public opinion it is only right that the Seanad should be given its fair share of publicity in the national press. The proceedings of Dáil Éireann get 40 times as much coverage in the papers as do the proceedings of Seanad Éireann. Stormont and happenings in other places——

Gimmickry appears to attract more publicity, be it in Dáil Éireann or Seanad Éireann.

This is a highly irresponsible attitude on the part of the press. I would commend the radio programme which in a short period of 15 minutes highlights some of the contributions from both Houses.

We can discuss tourism even if it gets only five lines in tomorrow's papers. We can discuss it in the hope that what we say may have some influence with the Minister's Department and with Bord Fáilte. The Bill itself is a short Bill but it involves the spending of very considerable sums of money. We are authorising grants to be doubled and to go up from £5.5 million to a ceiling of £11 million, before we are asked to comment on the state of the tourist trade again in three or four years time. That is too big a jump. We should have an opportunity of commenting on it at more frequent intervals than that. The guaranteed loans go from £5 million to a total of £8 million. That is a very substantial step forward. We have all got the feeling that all is not well with the tourist business. The examples of overcharging are too numerous and frequent to be pushed aside. It is wrong that the taxpayers' money is spent in providing substantial help towards building new hotels and that these hotels should be allowed to charge what they like. There should be a type of ombudsman service attached to Bord Fáilte and penalties should be imposed for transgression. There should be heavy fines which would take back from the hotels concerned part of the subsidy they have got from the tax-payers. I think that some of the examples are deplorable. On the other hand we have some excellent value for money, especially in our bed-and-breakfast establishments, particularly in the country regions where there is a great element of personal service and where the people concerned take a pride in doing a good job and enjoy meeting different people, conversing with them and seeing to their needs in every way possible. That is the type of tourism that brings the Irish spirit into action. That is what we should be proud to label as Irish tourism, the type of tourism that deserves to have Fáilte Uí Ceallaigh associated with it. If we can develop that then I think we will see a proper expansion of our tourist trade into the 70s.

At the moment the figures given by the Minister show that hotel rooms have increased from 17,800 to 27,890 in ten years. This looks a substantial increase yet it is only 4 per cent per annum. Despite that, however, I would suggest that we have sufficient hotel rooms at present and that we should continue the existing moratorium on these for the present because in that regard while we may be a little short of rooms at peak times, there is a very poor yearly utilisation of the places available. We cannot afford more provision for peak figures, so I think that the money in the future should be concentrated first on extending the utilisation of the resources we have got. That means extending the holiday season by every means possible. There is not nearly enough recognition of the necessity for this, and this begins at home, because it is little comfort to the Irish economy to read the figure of plus £98 million contribution credited to tourism incoming and to find that probably the outgoing figures are at least £70 million to £75 million—in other words that there are far too many facilities for holidays abroad by our people and too much snobbery in concentrating on holidays abroad when the holiday facilities at home have not been explored. I do not know what can be done on that.

It is not quite as bad as that.

It is pretty bad.

About £40 million as against earnings here of £100 million.

Even if we bring in £100 million a lot of that is in business and a great deal of it is people coming home, with emigrants returning. This is not in the strict sense what you would regard as tourism produced by our efforts to attract tourists in full competition. We should realise the benefit we have with so many brought here simply by their blood ties. It would seem that we should have an aggressive campaign first of all to encourage our own people as a patriotic duty to spend most of their holidays at home, and secondly to extending the season. To extend the season there are two obvious things which require to be done. First of all is the question of the school year. It is all wrong with regard to the holiday season.

Hear, hear.

That should be tackled, so that June rather than July and August becomes the accepted holiday month for schoolchildren and their parents. Indeed I cannot think of a more pleasant month for holidays or a month with a better record of sunshine or of long days and general facilities.

I am going to try it on once again. I agree fully with the Senator.

But of course you must have a quid pro quo, and that is that the exams and all that should move forward at least two weeks so as to ensure that the certificate exams are finished by the 1st June.

That is not the trouble. The Department of Education are very willing to co-operate in this matter. The difficulties lie elsewhere.

Secondly, of course the national schools are even more at fault because they continue until the first week of July whereas they should finish on 1st June. It is necessary for both to close because schoolchildren, especially at the post-primary level, provide the great source of helpers for the casual work in the holiday season and they need to start that much earlier than they are available at present. Secondly, to encourage this June type of holiday we will have to ensure that all schools are closed by then. Of course that means opening up towards the end or the middle of August. Opening by mid-August could be quite acceptable provided we recognise the fact that opening up by mid-August and going to Christmas is much too long a spell, and therefore the mid-term break in October should become a feature of our school year-a week's break at that period.

There is no problem in that. I agree with the Senator, and I happen to know something about it because I was in Education before here, and the problems lie elsewhere, with the particular bodies concerned.

It must be tackled. It could make a greater contribution to extending the season than anything else I know. With the school break in the Fall which is a feature of the systems in many countries it means that this in turn would come in to reinforce the holiday season at this end, and the parents and the children would tend to take some days at probably relatively cheap rates in our resorts at that period. There is no reason why that mid-term break should not be a staggered one and be a week some time from the first week in September to the first week in October, arranging the break in such a way that it is spread over the period.

The second real source of help is in factory holidays. It seems absolutely crazy that these should be concentrated in the first two weeks of August, the very height of the holiday season. You can change the pattern there provided it is coupled with some inducement, and the inducement I would see there is that we recognise the fact that we are going to have increased leisure in the future, and that means longer holidays. Therefore with the increase from two weeks to three in the standard holiday pattern that could well be used as a means of rationalising the time at which it occurs. I would suggest that it should be two weeks and one week. The one week should occur some time in the early or late spring or early summer, which may probably be followed by two weeks in the September period. That would ensure that our facilities are available in July and August for out-of-State tourists largely, and would achieve the spread of the season and the better utilisation of our resources.

There are the keys to the successful development of our system. Of course, if we can get a longer season established it would mean that hotel staffs would become much more permanent and we would have far fewer fly-by-nights who through no fault of their own, after four or five months work, clear off to England leaving the unfortunate hotelier to try to train a new batch in the following season. Rather than concentrating the taxpayers' money on the building of large-scale hotels we should be spending it in the way I have been suggesting.

We all welcome the scheme for holiday cottages, but like the last speaker I suggest it is totally wrong to put a minimum number on it. By putting a minimum number of ten on it we are moving into the factory class again. An operator with ten cottages will not be able to give any real element of personal service whereas an owner down the country with just one cottage, like the owner of a bed and breakfast establishment, can give all his attention to it. Our demand simply should be that minimum standards would be maintained and that as long as the owners remain registered they would be liable to inspection. Complaints could be investigated and if anything is wrong they could be knocked out. I therefore appeal to the Minister to remove the lower limit in this respect. I cannot see the difference between ten holiday cottages and a motel. I think the development of the motel system here is good. The charges are much more reasonable being of the order of £2 a night or less.

The figures given in a recent survey were anything but flattering to us. In the newspapers today we read that there was an average increase in 1969 of 12 per cent of tourists from EEC regions. Out of that number we got only 3 per cent compared with an average of 12 per cent for the countries concerned in the survey and 23 per cent for England. That points to the fact that the boom we had in the 'sixties will not continue into the 'seventies unless we take real positive steps.

The tourist industry has been cited as our second largest one, bringing in £98 million last year, a substantial sum. I understood the Minister to say that there is an outlay of £40 million. That leaves us with a figure of £60 million. Despite the fact that there has been a fall, the net income is still between £40 and £50 million. We can look at agriculture, which is worth a net £180 million which means that tourism brings in about quarter of the amount.

The one thing we are certain about in the future is that there will be more leisure time available. Machinery, automation, mean that the working week will continue to decrease and this means that catering for leisure will become more and more important. Therefore, the Government are right to put resources at the disposal of this industry, but I think they should be doing it more aggressively. I should like bigger sums put into the development of tourist facilities that are unique to this country the ones where the personal touch is involved.

For instance, family farm holidays express everything of the best we can offer from the point of view of the unique experience for visitors of being on a natural farm, not a phoney one, of being able to share in farm activities and of being able to use the facilities of the farm, such as horse riding and kindred activities. It is on these things we should be concentrating. There are also caravan holidays and pony trekking which is unique to us and which we should develop much more.

We should do more by way of package holidays. Aer Lingus could possibly have closer ties with coach holidays in the country and some effort should be made to tie in tourism with sales of Irish produce. In other words, when we are pushing the marketing of Irish produce in England and elsewhere, whether dairy produce or meat, we should tie in some type of raffle or lottery, the prizes being holidays in Ireland and the transport to and from being by Irish airlines. I have suggested this many times and I do not see why such an imaginative approach should not be adopted and introduced.

I also suggest the development of local exhibits in local museums and so on. We want something to act as focal points for visitors. Therefore I ask the Minister to see to it that the grandiose scheme for the development of Kilmainham as a national museum is not allowed to proceed. Instead, we could have a transport museum and various farm museums decentralised so that they would act as focal attractions in various parts of the country for tourists who could not be expected to enjoy themselves spending a complete day scampering around the 22 acres at Kilmainham. I ask the Minister to engage his moderating influence in this respect.

On the question of increasing the membership of Bord Fáilte, provided the increased membership is used to insist on the unique Irish character of tourism rather than helping the hotel industry I am in agreement with it.

I welcome the Bill and I commend Bord Fáilte on what they have done but I ask them now to take stock of the various genuine Irish tourist amenities that have been developed, to ensure that these are developed and the phoney ones which are replicas of what can be got in Brighton or elsewhere will be allowed quietly to fold up and go to Brighton.

I join in the many warm and sincere tributes that have been paid to Bord Fáilte for their imaginative approach, enthusiasm and for the constant help, advice and co-operation that they have given to everyone engaged in the tourist industry.

Having said that, I do not wish to appear to be introducing any discordant or critical note if I make some suggestions which may possibly be of assistance or, at least, worthy of consideration. This Bill deals primarily with the giving of money for grants and the guaranteeing of loans from the bank to enable people either to improve and expand existing businesses or to create new businesses. I would suggest that when grants are to be given for the expansion of existing businesses, the conduct of that business for at least three years past be investigated critically by the board and certain factors should be considered by them. For example, they should consider such factors as what imagination or enthusiasm has the person running the business displayed during that period or if he has made any effort to expand the holiday period in the occupation of his hotel.

In commercial business this factor is borne in mind by the Department of Industry and Commerce as to what efforts a businessman has made towards selling abroad and so on. A very important factor in the tourist business is the ascertaining of what efforts are being made to expand the tourist season by the person who is seeking the grant. This is important from two points of view. Anybody, regardless of whether he is competent or not, can fill his hotel during the peak period when people cannot get rooms elsewhere but only the man who runs his place well and who gives value for money can continue his business outside the normal holiday period. That man is introducing into the country an income that we would not otherwise receive. Furthermore, he is taking the first step towards good labour relations because it does not make for good labour relations to have men and women employed for only a short period each year and then to dismiss them so that they must draw unemployment insurance. Neither does this lead towards getting the best staff or towards providing the best possible service.

Therefore, one of the most important factors to be considered are the steps that have been taken by the person seeking the grant during the past two years towards expanding the holiday period and how successful those steps have been. His accounts should be open to inspection for that period and if he is seeking grants for a new hotel his background should be examined as regards his experience of the business and his administrative ability. As grants are given here, there is too much temptation for a person who is seeking easy money because he may decide to sell when he has the hotel built and after he has got the grant of approximately one-third of the cost, thereby making a profit.

I find it necessary to say, although I very much regret having to say so, that a considerable amount of fraud is practised in obtaining hotel grants. This is an open secret. I have known auditors to refuse to certify or sign accounts that were to be forwarded to Bord Fáilte by persons applying for grants because they could not do so within their conscience and the accounts were sent to other auditors who were less scrupulous in that regard.

Is there any reason whatever why a person looking for a grant to build a new hotel should not be confined by certain conditions, one of which would ensure that his accounts for the work he had done would be certified and audited and vouched for and which would impose on him very severe penalties if he should be fraudulent and, furthermore, that more severe penalties should be imposed on the professional men who certify such fraudulent accounts? There could be a further protection by taking specific standards in addition to those but those certainly should be provided. In so far as I know in relation to the giving of those grants at the present time they are simply estimates. It is utterly impossible to make out an estimate of what would be the proper cost for a building because so much inferior work can be covered up by paint or plaster. Accounts should be properly audited and properly certified and there should be very severe penalties for any person taking advantage of the situation.

Senator Quinlan referred to the holiday period of factories and suggested that these be spread out. It is common knowledge that at the present time all the factories in the country take two weeks holidays during the first fortnight in August. That is essential in the ordinary way because some factories are dependent on others; some supply others and some require goods from others. The third week is left wide and the workers and management decide between themselves in each factory when that week should be taken.

However, even if all the holidays were to be taken at different times I do not think it would have very much effect on the tourist industry because wherever young people spend their money, provided they spend it at home and not abroad, it is redistributed, but what we want is money from foreign tourists.

Reference was made to the high charges in some of our bigger hotels. It may be popular to criticise everything that appears to be wealthy and everything that appears to cater for wealthy people but tourists who visit this country, especially Americans, expect a certain standard of service and they are prepared to pay well for it. What many people appear to overlook is the standard of service they require necessitates a very large number of personnel. What many people do not realise is that in very expensive hotels the staff must approximate the number of guests in a ratio of one to one. In some of the really expensive hotels they go much further than that and the number of staff exceeds the number of guests. I do not think we have any such hotels in this country but there are some in Britain. Provided guests are prepared to pay for this service there is no reason why we should not cater for them.

The development of our tourist industry will also require a growing and expanding number of competent staff. I do not feel we are paying enough attention to the training of staff. The average country hotel depends on boys and girls home on holiday from school to take on jobs as waiters. These youngsters are paid a miserable pittance and the hotels are cashing in on them. There are certain schools which provide hotel training here. Something could be done to encourage those schools. I realise in this day and age that we have to depend on financial encouragement but some of the schools are run at a very severe loss. I know of one or two which will ultimately reach the stage where they cannot continue to bear the loss and they will not be able to continue this training. Good hotel staff in Denmark, Holland or Belgium speak at least three modern languages and sometimes four. In Holland they speak four different languages and although they may not be very expert they are able to carry on a normal conversation. One or two of the hotel training schools in this country teach their students a couple of modern languages.

The matters to which I have referred are no fault of Bord Fáilte. Perhaps they do not appreciate the grasping and greed of certain people. One thing we must remember is that the hotelier who will be dishonest with Bord Fáilte will be dishonest in the treatment of his guests and in the handling of his guests' bills. Above all, he is a person who should not be allowed to continue in the hotel business.

I have only one point to make. I spent all my holidays in the Thirty-two Counties and loved every moment of them. When discussing with friends what is wrong and what is right about the tourist industry one of the most common complaints I hear is the lack of river fishing facilities. The reason for this is that the stretches of river are used by large hotels and prosperous people. We have a five-mile stretch of river running through the town of Cahir which is up for sale. One of the large hotels in the town of Cashel has offered £6,000 for it. The local anglers are very anxious to get an option to purchase this stretch of the River Suir but, as yet, no option has been given to them. Bord Fáilte should interest themselves in our rivers and see to it that when they are for sale they are offered to ordinary people so that we can do something for the ordinary tourists.

I realise we must have facilities for the millionaire type tourist but I am interested in the ordinary hard working man who spends the rest of the year working in a factory in England and comes here for his holidays. I believe in the private ownership of property but I believe everyone should get an option to purchase a stretch of river when it comes up for sale. I suggest Bord Fáilte give grants so that these stretches of river can be purchased for the ordinary people. This is the only point I want to make.

I welcome the Bill because it provides a means for expansion in the grant system up to 1972. We need to introduce fresh thinking in relation to the system of grants. I think it will be acknowledged by everyone that the grants and loans initiated some years ago have resulted in the growth of tourism which we have experienced. We should now be taking a second look at the policy of giving grants to what I would describe as high priced hotels. One does not wish to be over-critical but we have as many as we need, if not, perhaps, a little more than we need, of this type of accommodation.

One of the effects which this type of accommodation has on the tourist industry here is to encourage others to charge higher than they need. This bad habit may be affecting us. I would discourage an increase in this type of accommodation. Any further expansion of the tourist industry should come in the middle or lower priced accommodation. Competition for tourism is becoming vital. The people from abroad are price-conscious with regard to their holidays. We are beginning to price ourselves out, even in ordinary meal prices. Unless one is familiar with Dublin it is difficult to get a reasonable meal here at a reasonable price.

The Minister might consider publicising the amounts of grants given. I do not see anything wrong with such publication. It might clear up misunderstanding. One hears exaggerated rumours of grants paid. I should like to see the details.

I gave the Dáil a summary of those grants.

Prices of drink are affected by the all-over cost structure. One cannot altogether blame the hoteliers and public houses. The entire structure is getting out of control and affecting our tourist earnings. There are other factors in relation to drink prices. We are relying much more than the British economy do on taxation from drink. I am speaking of the proportion involved. The British economy has other sources of revenue. One of our main sources of revenue is the taxation on drink. I am more concerned about our visitors than about ourselves in this regard. There is also a difference in the gravity of the beer, and our beer is costing more. I understand that a pint of mild beer can be bought in Britain at less than the cost of a pint of beer here. Perhaps the Minister could persuade the brewers here to produce a low-gravity beer.

The Minister for Finance gets the big share from the beer tax.

Proportionately our economy receives more from beer here than the British economy receives from their beer. I also referred to the difference in gravity.

Our beers are too good.

In the Dublin tourist region we have recommended to the brewers that they should examine the question of whether it is economic to produce a beer for visitors. The Englishman can get a pint of beer for 2s 3d. Here he must pay 3s 4d and he can pay as much as 4s 6d in certain types of premises. This affects our tourist market.

I have been referring to the need to be able to compete. If the grants system is to continue after the expiration of the existing scheme, I would encourage the Minister to concentrate on the lower-priced, more competitive type of unit. The private-house accommodation and the farm-house accommodation should be encouraged. There are good reasons for having this guesthouse accommodation and farmhouse accommodation where the increases in rates are the only increases likely to be faced. There are not large increases in labour costs in these homes so their prices remain competitive. In Scotland one can stay in a house in almost any town for 18s 9d for bed and breakfast. Apart from the reasonable prices one benefits by meeting the Scottish people and not staying in high-priced hotels meeting people from one's own country. I should like to see this type of tourism encouraged here. There may be an odd case of someone applying for a grant for farmhouse accommodation and not intending to take visitors. The majority of people who receive grants are giving a return to the economy for the money spent.

Reference was made to overcharging and high prices. I read of a lady in west Kerry charging 6s for two cups of tea and four slices of bread. I visited this area often and one was accustomed to being invited in for a cup of tea without payment. I hope this custom of overcharging is not developing. It may have something to do with the fact that a few million pounds have been spent by a film group in that area in the past few years. There are bound to be a certain number of people in every community whose outlook is entirely selfish. They are not conscious of the damage they do to the country, to the community or to the decent, ordinary, hardworking people who are working so hard for the tourist industry throughout the country. I think that every effort should be made through whatever vehicles the board has to expose people who do this sort of thing. I am thinking very much of discouragement in the schools and through the radio, television and the press because there have just been too many instances of a small minority who tend to overcharge and to take advantage. That is an unfortunate position.

There are a couple of other matters I should like to mention. Some of them were raised before. This city here is suffering in an outrageous way from public begging. Representations have been made to the Garda by the tourist regional board of which I am chairman, and, so far, we have not seen anything like the results that one would hope for. I am not being critical of the gardaí. I think that this arises to some extent out of the fact that we do not seem to have enough gardaí for this sort of work. Also I think—and I am speaking now from about four or five years experience of this—that the cure is not by way of prosecution and this is what the Garda are concentrating on. Let us take the central tourist areas—Grafton Street, College Green, O'Connell Street and St. Stephen's Green. Having a man on duty in uniform in these areas will keep the public beggars off those streets. The difficulty about prosecution is that you have to catch somebody doing it, and you cannot do that if you are in uniform because it is not going to be done if you are there. There should be a witness and it is very embarrassing to start arresting people. They will start screaming and frequently pedestrians will tend to back up the culprit rather than the garda. I think that we are getting to a stage in this city apart from, I am sure, Mr. Chairman, your own city, where this sort of thing is causing very great damage to an industry employing more than 160,000 people directly and indirectly.

The other evil I should like to refer to and which has been brought to the notice of the authorities is the persistent commercialised selling of raffle tickets in our streets. I have nothing against the charity whether it is the reverend mother or the parish priest who gets a licence which the superintendent cannot refuse for a legitimate charity, but there is, as far as I understand it, a commercialised system of raffle ticket-selling. Advertisements have appeared in the papers here inviting young people to apply to sell tickets in the streets on a commission basis. I have seen these myself where I work in O'Connell Street. I have seen them being changed every few hours. I have seen cars delivering these people to the areas where they are to collect and I have seen visitors in this city who cannot stop at a shop window because if they do they are going to be pestered. The gardaí are apparently helpless in dealing with this because once you have a licence there is no law against it. There is not even as far as I can see a charge under which one would be entitled to prosecute these people even though they are damaging business, irritating visitors and making us out to be a nation of beggars.

I should like to say a few words about regional tourism, because I notice that in the Dáil there has been some criticism of it, although mild. I think the regional tourist system set up by Bord Fáilte so far is justifying itself. There are now eight voluntary boards with between 16 and 25 members on each board with a voluntary chairman looking after the interests of the different regions. What has happened here is that the actual function of tourism locally has been decentralised. It has been taken from Bord Fáilte and handed over to voluntary boards who know or should know what is needed in their areas, who can deal with local problems and who can generate interest and enthusiasm locally. There was some suggestion in the Dáil debates that there was overlapping in these areas and, perhaps, overspending in promotion. As far as I know, with one exception no tourist area has tried to get involved in the overseas market. I think there was one case of this some years ago but it has not occurred since.

The policy of the eight regions is not to get involved in overseas promotions other than through groups and organisations here by way of introducing market material if a private association or its members are going abroad, when they are supplied with material. That is what is being done in Dublin, and it is similar in other parts of the country. Nor as far as I know have any regions sent any of their people abroad as far as I understand it. Certainly, in the past six years that I have been connected with Dublin tourism the director or the chairman has not been sent anywhere at tourist expense. The tourist manager for Dublin was sent abroad once by my committee to examine and report on what is known as the son et lumiere system of providing a tourist attraction and his report was a useful one which has been circulated to some Government Departments and may result in some useful ideas here. On another occasion we sent a conference executive who deals with international conferences here abroad to The Hague, but he went for nothing. It was a free trip, and the Dutch people looked after him for a couple of days, and he was able to bring back a very good report to us.

There is some data in relation to regional tourism which Senators may find interesting. Regional tourism is supported by Bord Fáilte, by the local authorities, and by national and local business interests who give subscriptions. The total amount being subscribed six years ago by local authorities was something in the region of a little over £20,000 over the Twenty-six Counties. That was to the old Irish Tourist Association. The total amount being provided by local authorities throughout the Republic today is something over £78,000 per annum. In the case of the Dublin region, for instance, the amount being put up by Dublin Corporation to the Dublin region is now £17,500. In the case of business subscriptions, national and local, the total amount which six years ago was about £20,000, is now £130,000 per annum. In Dublin there is a membership of approximately 450—3½ years ago there was no member—and in amounts of between £10 and £1,000 the total subscribed was £19,000. I am giving the Senators and idea that many business people appreciate the value of tourism to the economy. So do local authorities throughout the country.

I have been giving a picture of what is ment by regional tourism. Six years ago there were tourist offices in only two centres, O'Connell Street in Dublin and Patrick Street in Cork. Now during the summer there are more than 1,000 offices operating in various centres. You can go into any of these offices and book a room in Dublin for 18s 6d per night upwards. Of course if you are anxious to go into a penthouse that is your business. For the price of a telex wire, which takes ten minutes, you can book a room in a private house or guesthouse. That is what is needed rather than have people wandering into hotels paying far more than they wanted to and going away complaining about Ireland.

There are many other facilities. For instance any Member of the Seanad who wants any information can go into the offices down the street, below the Hibernian Hotel. If he calls in there the young ladies will be very glad to give him any information he wants. One of the things Members of the House might enjoy during lunch hour is the concert of Irish music and dancing in Stephen's Green.

Bord Fáilte have been exposed to a certain amount of criticism. Of course, every board should be criticised but I think that during the years Bord Fáilte have done an imaginative and industrious job of work. Of course there are people in Ireland who are always ready to attack anything that is attempted but most of us are sensible enough to realise that if nothing were attempted we would stagnate. We should therefore acknowledge that the work done by Bord Fáilte has been a great contribution to our economy. There are in the region of 160,000 people, about one-sixth of our working population, employed as a result of tourist earnings. I do not mean they are employed in tourism. This is very significant and some of the dedicated officials of the board are to be commended. They have contributed towards making Ireland a tourist conscious country on the one hand and towards publicising Ireland abroad on the other. Although we are quick to criticise, we are not always ready to acknowledge the worthwhile things that have been done.

The Minister said both here and in the Dáil that he has asked for an analysis of progress in tourism. I agree that we should analyse, criticise and examine but on the other hand I do not wish to be associated with the explosive remarks made by my colleague, the Chairman of the Eastern Region Tourist Board as published in yesterday's newspapers. One can be over-critical, one can talk too much at times. I should like to revert to the voluntary tourist regional boards. It is a very good thing to have on those boards men who as directors have to travel to meetings and possibly stay overnight at their own expense. They are doing it for the sake of the community.

I have read in some newspapers of efforts to discourage people from damaging visitors cars. I am going only on what I have read in the newspapers. I condemn this sort of misguided nationalism which could bring about disemployment and emigration. At all times we should be ready to stand up and condemn this sort of thing. Nothing whatsoever can justify it.

I agree with the idea in the Bill of holiday cottages. Senator Kelly made an interesting contribution but I do not think he brought us anywhere in regard to the problem of the preservation of buildings. We also want to build houses for our people and we are not in such a happy position as the United States, France and other countries who can set aside £5 million, £10 million or £20 million towards proposals of this kind. We have very pressing problems that have got to be solved and, as was made clear here yesterday, we have the problem of inflation and the need to reduce expenditure.

I wish again to pay a tribute to Bord Fáilte. I was a member of the committee on national heritage. They have a genuine interest in the preservation of amenities, but I do not see how, unless one were to take over people's property and treat it as public, we could preserve buildings on any kind of economic basis. If Dublin Corporation tells somebody to preserve a building that ratepayer must pay for it. I do not see how we could acquire powers to force people to do anything with their property other than to keep it in reasonable order. It may be possible for the Government to set aside a reasonable amount per annum to buy buildings. In some American cities the city authorities have bought property they wish preserved and relet it on condition that it be kept in a reasonable state. There are some very fine buildings here in Dublin—some are public buildings—but their condition is to say the least frightening. One would be afraid to walk along some of the corridors. However, if the position is that we must do without 5,000 or 10,000 houses in order to preserve these buildings we must decide on which course we want to take. Certainly, I would be in favour of providing houses rather than preserving buildings.

I agree with Senator Quinlan when he said that the newspapers do not pay much attention to what is said in this House. However, Senator Quinlan knows as well as I that if we behaved in this House as some people behave in the other House we would get plenty of publicity but it is my opinion that this House is at a better level than the other one. In saying that I am not trying to be critical of the Dáil.

Has the Minister heard that? He is a Member of the other House.

It was not intended for the Minister. If we were prepared to stand up and make excitable remarks we would probably get plenty of publicity.

As other speakers have done, I should like to express my appreciation of all Bord Fáilte have done and to congratulate them on what has been a fine piece of work during the 1960s for the Irish tourist industry. I agree with the last speaker that because there is perhaps a light setback now, it is not good or constructive to be too critical of them. Perhaps this is a trait that is peculiar to the Irish character. I should include in this tribute the excellent staff of Bord Fáilte whom I have always found to be both efficient and courteous. Indeed, any tourist to whom I have spoken has had the highest praise for them. I would like to commend them also on the publication of their excellent magazine, Ireland of the Welcomes which is sent to us as a gift. This magazine is distributed on Aer Lingus flights and has many times come in for favourable comment from visitors.

To look back on the build-up of the tourist industry within the last decade, we have examined here today how the money has been spent. The Government have made a very big investment in the industry. By and large this money has been wisely spent but most of us would agree that we may have too much accommodation of the luxury hotel type and that perhaps it would be better if we had more of the middle range accommodation. One aspect of the operations of Bord Fáilte on which I might be critical in this regard is that somebody should ensure that hotels which are described as being Grade A, B or C are such. Somebody might say that the grade depended on the number of bathrooms in hotels but I presume this is only one of the aspects. I would hate to think it was the only one because sometimes hotel bathrooms are not always what one would wish them to be. This may not be the fault of Bord Fáilte but of the management.

Perhaps if the board's inspectors and inspection system were stepped up a little we would arrive at a more consistent form of grading. The tourist industry seems to have run into some trouble this year although it may be a little early at this stage to be definitive as to what exactly the position is in 1970. There are outside factors as well as internal ones and it is only fair that we should examine in an objective way the internal factors about which we can do something. We must consider what we have to offer vis-á-vis other countries because tourism is now a highly competitive business and will be even more competitive in the years ahead.

We must consider first what we have to offer. Ours is a particularly beautiful country with a distinctive way of life especially outside the city and this relaxed way of life is a tourist attraction. We have excellent beaches. Perhaps some of our amenities are not as developed as they should be, but it is not easy to know whether we should go on developing or endeavour to keep our amenities in their natural state. To counteract these amenities we have high prices and an inclement climate. I do not for one moment suggest that anybody can do anything about the weather and I am not too sure whether we can do anything about high prices if we are to judge from the debate on the Finance Bill yesterday, but we must find some way of continuing the impetus of the industry. I give full marks to the person who first thought of introducing the holiday village. We should have a lot more of those but again the high price factor will militate somewhat against them. I am glad that they are being registered under this Bill. Package tours are also a good idea. These are in operation on a wide scale in every European country. We must do more to cater for family holidays. In this sphare we are very much in the high price bracket. For the average family of a husband, wife and four or five children, the cost of staying at an Irish hotel is prohibitive.

The idea of a farmhouse holiday has met this need to some extent but of course not everybody wishes to spend his holiday on a farm. People may have other tastes. We must consider also the provision of more camping and caravan sites. Camping sites are only a recent addition to Irish accommodation but they are very worthwhile. They are ideal for those who enjoy an outdoor holiday. I must mention also An Óige who have done tremendous work in this field. I should like to see more help being given to them by Bord Fáilte so that they might establish more hostels abroad.

Another area of tourism we have not developed but which I am personally convinced there is a great market for in England is our waterways. Coming from the town of Athlone the Minister must be well aware of the tourist potential in our waterways. We are very much aware that motoring in Britain is becoming almost a nightmare and the lakes and canals are also getting very overcrowded.

We must examine whether we are directing our publicity at the right markets. We are geared very much to the British market and here we are faced with a great deal of competition, especially since the £50 travel limit was removed, from countries like France, Italy, Spain and many Eastern European countries who have entered the market at very competitive rates. We have also geared ourselves to the American market, especially the Irish-American market, but we shall have to get into Europe and attract French, Spanish and Italian tourists to spend their holidays here. By encouraging student tourists to spend a holiday here we will achieve much more than all the publicity booklets which Bord Fáilte can publish because if a student likes this country he will go home and tell all this friends about it.

I look forward to the growth of the tourist industry in the "Seventies and I should like to wish the Minister, his Department and Bord Fáilte and everyone else engaged in the industry success.

I am very glad a member of the Labour Party is advocating getting into Europe.

But not your way.

I welcome this Bill because more money is being provided for the tourist industry. I would have given an even heartier welcome to the Bill if the amount of money sought in it was trebled. The general opinion is that our agricultural industry is the most important industry we have but I think agriculture should take second place to tourism.

Senator Brugha mentioned the contributions made by local authorities to this industry. I think we should make a comparison between the contributions made by local authorities and the State to both tourism and agriculture. Local authorities have a maximum limit of 1d in the £ when contributing to the tourist industry and a maximum limit of 2s in the £ when contributing to agriculture. This year the Government are spending almost £100 million on agriculture and while I am not certain of the return I understand it is in the region of £200 million. On the other hand the Government are spending £5 million on tourism for a return of £100 million. We are investing 10s in the £ in agriculture and 1s in the £ in tourism.

I was interested to read the suggestion made by the Fine Gael Party a few weeks ago calling for a Minister of Tourism. This is not an original proposal. On 28th March, 1963, when speaking on this subject in this House at column 609 of the Official Report, I said:

I hope that the day is not too far distant when it will become necessary to establish a special Department of tourism, with a special Minister, and statutory bodies in the tourist counties to provide the advisory services which are so necessary today.

While the Government and the Taoiseach have said it is not proposed to establish such a Department I hope some day it will become necessary. Every Minister makes an impact in one direction or another on his Department. The Minister with us today is responsible for a large number of sections and even with his enthusiasm and initiative he cannot possibly make an impact on every section of his Department. I believe tourism is so important that it should be the direct interest of the Minister. In saying that I am not by any means criticising Bord Fáilte. They have done tremendous work with the limited money at their disposal.

When the Minister seeks extra money from the Government for Transport and Power, Aer Lingus and CIE—he finds it very difficult to persuade his colleagues to give him the money he wants. I should like to see statutory bodies in charge of tourism instead of the regional bodies as we all know them, set up on the western seaboard. Those regional bodies are voluntary organisations and the members of them have to leave their businesses for possibly two days at a time but they are not given any money for travel or other expenses. The only contribution the local authority can make is equivalent to 1d in the £. While the Minister has said that this will be increased I think it should be on a par with that paid to members of agricultural committees. The western seaboard, particularly Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal, Mayo, Parts of Galway, Clare and even Kerry, are still in need of tremendous development. We must realise that in many of these areas industrial development will never succeed.

The only hope for the west of Ireland is to have bigger investment in the tourist industry. Much more money should be provided and it need not necessarily be spent on the erection of hotels and holiday villages. The money could be spent by way of tourist investment. I was a director of the North-Western Region Tourism Organisation. When we were discussing the advertising programme for the three counties one year we were talking about spending £7,000 in England and Scotland advertising Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal. I am satisfied that there are many small industries in this country who spend more than £7,000 in any one year on advertising but in three counties which are completely underdeveloped touristwise the figure made available by Bord Fáilte was £7,000. I cannot speak for Sligo and Leitrim but I can speak for Donegal. It can be said that on the warmest day in summer one could pick a dozen beaches in that county, with miles of golden sands, and find them deserted or almost deserted. The reason for this is that the county is completely underdeveloped.

If enough money were provided in tourist areas the provision of water and sewerage facilities could be proceeded with. The provision of these facilities should be the responsibility of the tourist organisations. I feel that until these very necessary facilities are provided tourism cannot develop as it should. We have, in Donegal County Council, priority lists of water and sewerage schemes. If the work were carried out in one year this would cost £5 million. We receive £250,000 from the Department of Local Government per year. So, at present day prices, it will take 20 years to complete this programme. Only when the programme is completed can proper tourist development really begin. I am certain that a similar situation obtains right down the western seaboard as far as Kerry. At present prices it will take 20 years to provide facilities necessary for the proper development of tourism. Prices will rise as the years go on and it may take 30 years to complete the work. Much more money must be made available for these facilities in tourist counties if we are to tackle the tourist industry properly.

The Minister should give this matter consideration. One cannot build a holiday village beside a six-mile beach unless there is a piped water supply in the locality. A study of the western seaboard will show that there are many possibilities if only these very necessary water and sewerage facilities were made available. We are living a short distance from a great tourist market in England and Scotland where there are 50 million people. Scottish visitors should be able to come here. They should be attracted to this country. Facilities which were available in the past are no longer available. At one time boats took thousands of people from Scotland to Donegal, Derry and Sligo. The tourist industry is so important that the country should pay subsidies in order to enable more people to travel to Ireland by boat. A reply was given in the Dáil to a question, stating that it would be uneconomic to provide such a boat. The service itself might not be economic but it would be of benefit to the national Exchequer if more people had facilities to travel to Ireland.

There is one aspect of the regional tourism organisation which I wish to criticise. There is a tendency among large hotel groups to invite the girls working in the tourist information offices to one of their hotels, bring them together for a week-end at the expense of the hotel, and to wine them and dine them, with the obvious view of persuading them to send as many people as possible to that hotel chain. I myself witnessed this in a hotel, and I think that it is a practice that Bord Fáilte should take steps to discourage and that the regional tourist organisations should prohibit, because here we have a hotel group who feel that money talks and who believe that with the money that they have at their disposal they can bribe and intimidate the staffs of the regional tourism organisations to encourage visitors to go to their hotels, and that smaller hotels who are not in a position to do this will naturally suffer as a result.

I was pleased to hear the Minister tell Senator Brugha that he has given an assurance in the Dáil that the grants payable to hotels would be published. Not alone is this a protection for the taxpayer who provides the money but in many cases it is a protection for the hotelier himself. Very few people realise that the grant payable to these hotels is something in the region of one-third of the entire cost of the hotel. All of us have been told many times about the hotels in Ireland who have their hotels provided free of charge by Bord Fáilte. But this is also a protection for people who are not getting grants at all. In my own position in the business that I have it has been suggested to me on many occasions that I received from Bord Fáilte substantial grants. Some people, generally political opponents, of course, would like to suggest that because a person is a member of the Fianna Fáil Party he can get grants that other people do not get, and it so happens that in the nature of my business I do not qualify for any grants, that I did not seek any grants from Bord Fáilte, nor have I received them, yet no later than a few days ago I received an anonymous letter telling me about all the money Bord Fáilte have given me. I am only one of many who are in this position. I think that if the Minister were to publish these grants he is not alone protecting himself, protecting Bord Fáilte, protecting the people who pay the grants, protecting the people who get the grants but, more important, protecting the people who do not qualify for grants and who did not get them.

I should like sincerely to join in the tributes paid to Bord Fáilte for the work it has done ever since it was established. It has contributed in a very large way to the growth of the tourist industry in this country. Members of the Oireachtas and the public generally are grateful to the members of the board for their efforts and for the success that has attended their efforts.

Having said that, I want to refer briefly to a few points on which I would be glad to hear the Minister when he replies to the debate. On page 9 of the Minister's statement he has said that he had consultations with Bord Fáilte on 8th July and with the Hotels Federation on 10th July, and I gather these consultations were held with a view to further improving the tourist development of the country in the years immediately ahead. He proposes to assess what are the causes of the decline that appears to have taken place during the current year. To my way of thinking some at least of the causes that contributed to the lack of growth and the actual decline of tourism this year are the removal of the £50 ban on travel from Britain, and whether we like to say it or not we must agree that excessive costs in some hotels are another contributory factor. The recession in the United States may be another one, and the trouble in Northern Ireland is undoubtedly another one. Most, if not all, of these could have been foreseen by the Minister or Bord Fáilte 12 months ago, and the conferences the Minister held in July this year should have been held in the autumn of last year, and perhaps instead of making a rather belated effort to get things going better in the remaining months of the tourist season this year, that effort should have been made late last year or very early this year and so have avoided the stagnation or decline that set in for the reasons I have given. Perhaps the Minister has a valid answer to that argument, and I look forward to hearing it when he comes to the end of the debate.

Another specific matter I would like to raise would be for the purpose of getting information regarding the Minister's statement about funds being provided for the development of holiday accommodation. He said that Bord Fáilte operate a scheme of grants with the approval of the Ministers for Transport and Power and Finance. The scheme provides for the payment of up to 35 per cent of the total construction costs of new hotels in the western counties and up to 25 per cent in other areas. I should like to know if counties Cavan and Monaghan are included in the western counties for this purpose. In other spheres they are included but I am not quite sure whether they are included in the western counties in this regard. I take it that Donegal, a western seaboard area, is counted in.

I am greatly in favour of the development of the guesthouse type of accommodation. Perhaps we have reached saturation point with regard to the luxury hotel. The guesthouse type of accommodation will provide simple and wholesome fare, clean accommodation and will attract a big number of visitors especially the type who come to the areas that I represent in Cavan, Leitrim and the Midland Tourist Region. Greater development of the guesthouse type of accommodation is important, and I welcome it very warmly and hope that it continues.

Cavan is one of the counties in the midland region to which I have referred and there we have complaints about lack of co-operation between the county and the Midland Regional Council. I was present at a meeting of the Cavan County Council when a representative of the Midland Regional Council attended to ask the council for a contribution. I do not wish to be unfair to the gentleman, but neither I nor any other member has seen him since. Co-operation between the regional council and the counties participating is not as close or as effective as it should be. I agree with Senator McGlinchey that local authority contributions should be bigger but I see no hope of this unless there is closer liaison between the counties concerned and the regional board.

I do not intend to go into great detail in the matter of local endeavour but I should like to refer to the great amount of development work that has been done at Lough Sheelin. Some time ago there was a plan for a seven-year development of that lake and district. We got off the ground with a contribution of £4,000 in the first year. It dwindled to £2,000 the following year and since then the contribution has been very little.

At Belturbet, on the banks of the Erne, a big local effort got under way; the local contribution was paid; the contract for the development work was arranged, but when the former secretary of Cavan County Council, a man who took a lifelong interest in tourism, went to check up he was told the work was being left over. There may have been a good reason for that; there may have been lack of finance at headquarters; but when a small town makes a big effort and raises £700 to get the work started, it is most frustrating that nothing is being done.

This, again, indicates the necessity for closer co-operation between local communities and regional boards. There has been a sincere local desire to have Lough Oughter, again on the Erne, developed but no progress has been recorded. I hope some positive steps will be taken soon to develop that district which has wonderful potential, perhaps the greatest of any inland area in the country.

I suggest that the development of the River Erne, through Cavan and Fermanagh to South Donegal, calls for immediate attention. It is an area in respect of which we might hope for co-operation with the Northern Ireland authorities. It is the lake district of this country, especially that part in Cavan and Fermanagh and to a degree in Monaghan and Leitrim. There are numerous lakes on the Erne all of which have great potential for development. I hope the Minister will use his good offices to see that some worthwhile work is undertaken there.

Not least among the great achievements of Bord Fáilte is the Tidy Towns competition. Speaking as a Cavan man I am proud to say that two towns in the county, Ballyjamesduff and Virginia, have won the overall competition and that the county won the trophy as the tidiest county in the first year of the competition. Bord Fáilte should be given great credit for that. They demonstrated how magnificently local effort can produce results without all the time depending solely on the Government for help. This has shown the effect of local leadership when it gets encouragement from outside.

It was local leadership that played such a great part in developing the two towns I have mentioned, and Ballyconnell and others. The people of those towns have given a good example to the country of the achievement of local leadership. One of the greatest achievements of Bord Fáilte has been their effort to show that local people have the ability and the desire to get on with the job without help or guidance from the Government.

In his statement the Minister drew attention to the rent-a-cottage scheme which has been developed in the Shannon area in County Clare and which will be extended to other parts of the west. I commend that type of undertaking which I am sure will have beneficial effects on the economy in the future. It is a good idea not to concentrate all our efforts on luxury hotels which attract only the millionaires and the Indian princes, of whom there are so few. Most people who come here are of Irish extraction. Many of these people come to stay among relatives. In this regard the Minister and his Department should endeavour to ensure that amenities such as rural electrification, water and sewerage facilities are provided in all parts of the country.

Many people such as factory workers from the north of England come here also. In the main, these people spend most of their time along the banks of our lakes and rivers and they usually seek relatively cheap accommodation. They like simple fare. These are the type of people who stop in guesthouses. There is great potential for development of this type of tourism.

There is much that I should like to say on this important Bill but in view of the limitation as to time I shall not detain the House. Perhaps my plea could be described as a local one. It is to ask the Minister to use his good office and his influence with Bord Fáilte in an effort to develop what can be regarded as one of the finest tourist attractions in Ireland. I refer to the Hill of Tara which is within a 20 mile distance of our capital city.

It is estimated that approximately 20,000 people visit Tara each year. They come in organised groups and individually but I regret to say that there are no facilities such as shelters or toilets on the Hill of Tara. While I am aware that there are certain difficulties, perhaps the Minister could help. Meath County Council are anxious to play their part in the provision of facilities on Tara but we are inhibited from doing so to some extent because of difficulty between the Office of Public Works and the owner of land which the board are anxious to acquire. However, I am sure this is not an insurmountable difficulty and I would ask that the Office of Public Works would make every effort to acquire that land and I would ask the Minister to use his good offices in endeavouring to bring about a solution to this problem.

My second plea is in relation to Saint John's Castle. There have been promises to the effect that this would be developed as a Bunratty style castle but no provision has been made in the Budget for such development. I would ask the Minister to ensure that money for this purpose would be provided in the next Budget so that the Office of Public Works and Bord Fáilte could go ahead with the development of this beautiful castle in Trim. Trim is a historical area. The area is very interesting from an archaeological point of view. It could be one of the finest tourist areas in the country.

Ba mhaith liom cúpla focail a rá ar an mBille seo. Is léir dom, mar is léir do gach Seanadóir, chó tábhachtach is atá an déantús so don náisún. Ba cheart go gcabhródh gach uile dhuine leis an déantús a chur ar aghaidh.

The benefits of the tourist industry to the Irish economy are now recognised by all not only in relation to our balance of payments but in the increasing circulation of money especially in areas which have had no great industrial expansion. These benefits accrue in some way or other to all sections of the community and the time has long passed when we had to convince the public of the value of investment in tourism. It is obvious from this Bill that there is great need at present for stepping up the rate of investment.

When mention is made of Bord Fáilte spending money one thinks only in terms of grants towards the building of hotels and the other activities of the board are often forgotten. In the Dáil recently many questions were asked in connection with these grants to hotels but how often do we have inquiries in regard to the other activities of the board?

In my own area of south-Leitrim— north-Roscommon, much has been done by Bord Fáilte in developing the River Shannon for boating. We welcome this and we hope it will continue so that the great potential of the Shannon and the other inland waterways will be generated.

Another activity of Bord Fáilte that merits commendation is their help towards angling tourism. This activity is particularly welcome and we must commend the provision of facilities and amenities for anglers. These are of tremendous benefit. With the increasing pollution of rivers and lakes in Great Britain and on the Continent our fishing waters are becoming more and more valuable. The purchase of rights of way to angling waters is a vital necessity if we are to be able to offer free fishing in the future. This has been going on in my area with the co-operation of Bord Fáilte and the local angling clubs and it is something that I would strongly recommend should be extended throughout the country. If this is not done we will find that within a few years access to these waters will be impossible.

Much has been said about recreational facilities for visitors. It is my sincere hope that in spite of calls for investment elsewhere, these facilities will be expanded and that swimming pools and other amenities will be provided. These are especially needed in areas of angling tourism because an angler's family may not wish to spend the day with him while he is fishing and will seek some other form of activity.

Another side of this is the provision of entertainment for visitors. This need is met partly by the various festivals which are organised throughout the country and for which grants are given from the local regional tourism organisations. However, these usually run for about a week or a fortnight so that the rest of the time is blank. I was very impressed recently by the efforts of Fáilte Dhublainn in their concerts at St. Stephen's Green. These are worthy of the highest commendation and they give a very good picture of our Irish culture, to use that often misused word. I would recommend that this idea be adopted in other areas. There should not be any great difficulty in organising them. With the expenditure of a small sum of money, step dancing, music and so on could be provided on a regular basis in towns and villages.

It is very easy to call for panic measures to deal with the difficulties which the tourist industry is experiencing at the present time but experience has proved that panic measures cause more panic. I am only a layman about such things but there is confusion in many people's minds between advertising and marketing. This occurred to me when I was looking at the report of Córas Tráchtála yesterday. It is becoming more and more clear that all businesses whether they be hotels, guesthouses or boat-hiring firms, must go out and sell their wares, so to speak, during the winter. I know that a particular boat-hiring firm in my own locality who advertised its facilities last winter is doing well in spite of all the talk we hear about adverse factors affecting our tourist industry.

I welcome the rent-a-cottage scheme. I would like the scheme extended to all rural areas. I can see the benefits which tourism has brought in my own area. I want to congratulate the Irish Countrywomen's Association on their co-operation in the farmhouse holidays scheme.

I would refer to the desirability of Irish people spending their holiday at home this year. Does anyone claim to have seen every part of the Thirty-two Counties? "Snobbery" was a word that was bandied about this House yesterday in another context and perhaps "snobbery" is too strong a word to use here, but many people go to the Continent just so that they can boast about it. I think the motto this year should be: "See Ireland first".

It is generally agreed that tourism is one of the most competitive businesses. One of the most important aspects of tourism in regard to our economy is that it has multiple effects. The direct revenue resulting from what tourists spend in the country does not represent the real benefit of the tourist business. Tourism generates employment and an extra amount of spending indulged in by employees connected with the industry. It also generates increased revenue in all the trades ancillary to the tourist industry itself. For these reasons the tourist industry is a particularly successful one.

The remarkable drop in tourist earnings has affected all sections of the economy. It is for this reason we see the obvious concern of Members on all sides of the House. I do not think any Member of the House would be able to single out one main reason for the fall in our tourist trade. It is fair to suggest as many people have done that it can be attributed to the fantastic rise in prices. It might also be attributed to the political explosions on either side of the Border. To my mind nobody is able to say: "That is the reason why business has dropped this year". We simply cannot put a finger on the cause. It is fair to say that the unsettled state of affairs in a different part of the country has produced some strange reactions. When I was on the Continent recently I met some American tourists. I would be loth to place on the record of this House their version of the political events on either side of the Border here. Suffice it to say they were totally convinced that the whole of this country was engaged in a bloody civil and religious war. That is how distorted the press reports of the situation here had become by the time they percolated down to some little state of the United States. These people were convinced that march and counter-march were proceeding in this country. There must be more people in the United States who have this completely mistaken impression about what is happening here. It is a public relations matter. Bord Fáilte should endeavour to correct this impression quickly.

Debate adjourned.