As the Deputy is aware, the Government invests in culture and heritage for their intrinsic value but also recognises the valuable economic contribution the sectors can make. For example, the creative economy is now recognised as a leading sector in generating economic growth, employment and trade in many advanced economies. In 2010 it was estimated that the cultural and creative industries contributed around 2.6% of the total GDP of the European Union, providing around 5 million jobs across the 27 EU member states. In Ireland, in the same year, a report commissioned by the Arts Council estimated that the creative industries overall contributed more than €4.7 billion to the economy, equivalent to approximately 3% of GDP, while the number of jobs supported in aggregate amounted to 78,900. This underpins the importance attached to culture and heritage in the recently launched Project Ireland 2040, the comprehensive national planning framework and associated ten-year national development plan which provides for a significant investment of in excess of €1 billion in culture and heritage in the next ten years. It also provides for an additional €178 million to support the Irish language, a key element of our cultural identity, and protect our unique Gaeltacht and Island communities. The level of this investment which is unprecedented under a national development plan will inevitably have a beneficial economic impact. I will shortly launch this element of the plan. I was hoping to launch elements of it with the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Pashal Donohoe, and my colleague, the Minister of State at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Joe McHugh, but it has been postponed until a later date.
The national cultural institutions investment programme worth €460 million will see economic opportunities for the construction sector in the short run but will have a long-term economic benefit to Dublin and Cork from its tourism dividend, as well as providing much needed upgrades at these important national institutions. As part of the culture and creativity investment programme under the national development plan and aligned with the Creative Ireland programme, we will be investing heavily in the audio-visual industry as a cornerstone of the creative industries and bringing an economic dividend for the sector and the areas in which audio-visual content, including films, is produced.
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On the heritage side, we will invest €285 million in a broad range of projects across the country, from enhancing visitor facilities at national parks and nature reserves and providing incentives for the restoration of the historic cores of towns, villages and cities to works to protect national monuments and inland waterways. All of these investments will yield a positive economic impact from the jobs created from the works to the long-term benefits to local economies from the improved tourism offering, particularly in the national parks which are primarily on the route of the Wild Atlantic Way and present an opportunity for enhanced tourism development, as well as conserving the beauty of natural landscapes.