Dáil Éireann - Volume 372 - 14 May, 1987

Ceisteanna-Questions. Oral Answers. - Bord Fáilte Funding.

14. Mr. Kavanagh asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport the ways in which he proposes to finance the increase in funding for Bord Fáilte announced in his recent package; and the expected total expenditure by Bord Fáilte at the [2045] end of 1987, as compared with the outturn at the end of 1986.

Mr. Wilson: Bord Fáilte's allocation in 1986 was £27.360 million. It was announced in the recent budget that the board's 1987 allocation would be £22.903 million, the same as that proposed by the previous Government.

However, I am currently looking at all aspects of income and expenditure in the Tourism and Transport Vote to see how best to re-allocate funds to assist Bord Fáilte further in promoting the Government's crash tourism programme for 1987. I expect to be able to give full details to the House during the Estimates Debates on the Tourism and Transport Vote.

Mr. Kavanagh: We can only see what the Minister has allocated to Bord Fáilte from the Book of Estimates. However, we know their promotional budget has been slashed and much of the talk we have heard over the past few weeks about the great efforts being made in tourism have to be taken in conjunction with the fact that Bord Fáilte's promotional budget has been reduced by so much. How can the Minister justify the figure of 400,000 visitors to this country when he has reduced the promotional budget by £441,000 or 13 per cent, the budget for the home market by £264,000, a reduction of 38 per cent and that for North America which includes the United States and Canada by 28 per cent——

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy seems to be imparting information rather than seeking it.

Mr. Kavanagh: I am asking about these figures because when one thinks of what has been said about tourism over the past few weeks it is difficult to understand how the Minister can justify these figures. How can we expect 400,000 extra tourists to this country and yet see the promotional budget slashed in this way? The development of holiday accommodation [2046] has been cut by 77 per cent in the Estimates and I cannot understand how the Minister can stand over that kind of reduction.

Mr. Wilson: Deputy Kavanagh is the last person who should be puzzled about statistics in the Book of Estimates. He knows quite well that from January to 19 February tourism was under the aegis of the Department of Industry and Commerce. It was transferred on 19 February and the abridged version of the Book of Estimates, which was published in January, only gave the figures expended from 19 February to 31 December. The amount allocated to Bord Fáilte when Deputy Bruton was the Minister in charge was not included in the outturn given in the Book. A cut was also made in the 1987 Estimate. From 19 February to 31 December tourism was under the aegis of the Minister for Tourism, Fisheries and Forestry. A sum of £2.395 million was allocated to Bord Fáilte under subhead D1 in the period 1 January to 18 February before the transfer which was not shown in the outturn. That was the legacy which Deputy Kavanagh left to me.

Mr. Kavanagh: That is not so.

Mr. Wilson: The presentation of these figures in the abridged Estimates volume gives the impression that Bord Fáilte's 1987 allocation under subhead D1 was down only 4 per cent on the 1986 outturn. However, if you add — and you are entitled to do so — the £2.395 million, you get the 1986 outturn in respect of the board's current budget, namely, £24,020,000. Effectively this means that the current allocation for 1987 is down by £3.293 million or almost 14 per cent on 1986 instead of the 4 per cent reduction shown in the abridged volume of Estimates for which Deputy Kavanagh was responsible.

Mr. Kavanagh: I am not the former Minister for Tourism. If the Minister had turned over a couple of pages he would have seen the balance to which he [2047] referred in the Estimate for Communications.

Mr. Wilson: The cuts were based on the short one.

Mr. Kavanagh: The point I am making is that the Minister may say he is taking over a budget from the previous administration but in view of what was said during the election campaign about how important tourism is, the question to him must be: how can he say he can promote tourism by standing over reductions such as those? I have to tell the Minister that when I left Government I could not agree with the figures.

Mr. Wilson: You were fighting them but you lost.

Mr. Kavanagh: In any event, I am not the Minister you took over from.

Mr. Wilson: Immediately beforehand you were not.

An Ceann Comhairle: I am afraid we cannot debate this matter today. Actually the time has come for me to deal with priority questions.

Mr. Kavanagh: In view of what the Minister has said in recent weeks how can he stand over the reductions while at the same time saying he is going to attract in 400,000 extra tourists?

Mr. Wilson: I want to reply to Deputy Kavanagh by saying that, as I indicated, I have been pouring over the subheads in every area of tourism and transport and will fund the extra campaign which is needed to back up——

Mr. Kavanagh: From where?

Mr, Wilson: I will fund —— as I will make quite clear to the House when we are debating the Estimates in the very near future — the initiatives which were taken by my Department and which have been backed up by the various agencies involved in tourism at present.

[2048] An Ceann Comhairle: I am now encroaching on priority time but I will take a brief question from Deputy Deasy.

Mr. Deasy: Does the Minister know where the cuts will be made by Bord Fáilte? Have they informed him of where the cuts will be made or has he sought that information from them?

Mr. Wilson: I am fully aware of Bord Fáilte's policy and the principles they laid down for their expenditure as related to the new tourism drive.

Mr. Deasy: Where is it?

An Ceann Comhairle: Sorry, I must now come to questions nominated for priority.