Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Ceisteanna (108, 140, 174, 780)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

108. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his targets for the Gathering 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8555/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

140. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the Gathering 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8540/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

174. Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the Gathering 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8397/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Andrew Doyle

Ceist:

780. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the Gathering 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8525/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 108, 140, 174 and 780 together.

I am pleased to report good progress on the Gathering Ireland 2013 -  Ireland's biggest ever tourism initiative. The overall target is to attract at least 325,000 extra overseas visits to Ireland in 2013. Assuming this target is achieved, it will generate an additional €170 million in revenue for the Irish economy this year, based on historic spending patterns.  The 2013 Estimates allocations to Failte Ireland include a special provision of €7 million which was specifically provided for The Gathering. This amount is to be used exclusively to fund the promotion, development and legacy of the event.

The general response from the public and tourism stakeholders has been overwhelmingly positive. There are now over 3,000 individual gatherings confirmed on the Gathering website. These include clan gatherings, festivals, special sporting events and concerts taking place all across the country throughout the year. Along with well-established events and festivals, we are also supporting a specially targeted set of events for the Gathering, such as the very successful New Year's Eve Event in Dublin which marked the start of the festivities.

Obviously the ambitious targets for overseas visits and associated revenue can only be achieved if people in our main source tourism markets are aware of the initiative. Tourism Ireland continues to mount a major consumer campaign to promote The Gathering to the people across the world that feel linked by family, friends or otherwise with Ireland. The agency is undertaking cooperative activity with the major airlines and ferry operators to highlight the value fares that are on offer. Print, online and TV advertising is also being used to promote the initiative while the upcoming programme of overseas Ministerial visits during the St. Patrick's Day period will again be used to highlight this special year for Irish tourism.

While progress to date has been encouraging, I believe that all tourism stakeholders must continue to work hard to ensure that our targets are achieved.  I have said previously that the benefits of participation in the event will also have longer term positive consequences in terms of additional annual events as well as the strengthened connections being estabished as a result of the initiative.