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Island Communities

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 June 2021

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Ceisteanna (298)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh


298. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the initiatives that have been undertaken by her Department to develop sustainable tourism practices on offshore islands; the consultation that has taken place between her Department and island communities on the development of island tourism; the role Fáilte Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta play in developing and marketing sustainable island tourism; and the research that has been undertaken by her Department on ensuring tourism is developed sustainably. [29545/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Tourism)

I am well aware of the economic importance of tourism to our offshore islands and it is important that we strike a balance between the economic benefits and the need to protect and preserve these natural assets and the quality of life for their host communities.   

A Sustainable Tourism Working Group was established, under the Government's outgoing Tourism Policy Statement, which has set out the ambition that “Ireland will seek to be amongst the world-leaders in sustainable tourism practices” and in addition, accompanying Guiding Principles for Sustainable Tourism Development in Ireland. In order to maintain momentum on the sustainable tourism agenda, I reconvened the Sustainable Tourism Working Group early this year to complete the development of a suite of actions that promote sustainable tourism practices which can be implemented prior to a new policy being developed. The overall focus for these actions is to promote sustainable tourism practices in all locations throughout the country rather than in any specific region.

In line with the Programme for Government commitment, the development of a new national tourism policy, that mainstreams sustainability, will commence in the latter half of 2021 when the tourism sector starts to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. The development of this new policy will involve extensive consultation with the tourism industry and our communities to help set out a path for the coming years which will support a sustainable recovery and subsequent growth in the sector.

Central to developing a more resilient and sustainable tourism sector will be an increased focus on regional growth and season extension to deliver greater visitor dispersal throughout the country with a more even spread of demand across the year. I am very aware of the important role that Tourism plays as a driver of rural economies and I am committed to a continued focus on the potential of tourism to facilitate the development of our islands.

In regard to the Deputy's specific question about the role Fáilte Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta play in developing and marketing sustainable island tourism, these are operational matters for the agencies. I have requested the information from the agencies and I will forward it on the Deputy in accordance with timelines set out Standing Orders.