I have answered another question today from the Deputy regarding the collaborative approach to attracting major international sporting events. For this reason, I am interpreting the Deputy’s reference to “sporting tourism” in this question as referring to tourism based on sport and recreation leisure activities, or “activity tourism” (rather than to tourism relating to major sporting events).
My Department’s Tourism Action Plan 2019-2021 commits to developing and enhancing tourism experiences within the framework of Project Ireland 2040. In this regard, the Deputy will be pleased to note that investment in activity-based tourism is one of the priority areas for tourism capital investment under the National Development Plan 2018-2027 in order to provide the type and quality of experience that visitors are seeking. In terms of cooperation with relevant organisations, I can assure the Deputy that my Department and Fáilte Ireland take a consultative and collaborative approach to activity tourism-related projects and initiatives with which we are involved.
With regard to Greenways, submissions received during the public consultation phase of the development of my Department’s Strategy for the Future Development of National and Regional Greenways included ones from Sport Ireland and from several cycling groups, including Cyclist.ie (the representative body for everyday cyclists). These views were taken into account as part of the finalisation of the Strategy. Sport Ireland also formed part of the assessment panel that looked at applications for funding under the recent funding call where €40m was allocated to 10 Greenway projects around the country.
In terms of other aspects of our overall activity tourism offering, Fáilte Ireland works closely with other relevant parties, including Sport Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development. One key collaboration is Fáilte Ireland’s partnership with the Department of Rural and Community Development on its Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme, which comes under the responsibility of the Minister for Rural and Community Development, to support the development of new and enhanced outdoor recreation infrastructure and amenities throughout Ireland.
In order to help ensure alignment of efforts across all relevant Government Departments and State agencies, the Deputy will be pleased to note that officials from my Department and from Fáilte Ireland participate in the National Outdoor Recreation Group, which comes under the responsibility of the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht - a cross-organisational group of public service recreational infrastructure providers, which aims to coordinate the approach to outdoor recreation across State-owned lands and waterways. Fáilte Ireland is also a member of Comhairle na Tuaithe (under the responsibility of the Minister for Rural and Community Development) which was, earlier this year, given a strengthened mandate with regard to the sustainable development of the outdoor recreation sector in Ireland.