Dáil Éireann - Volume 475 - 05 March, 1997

Written Answers. - Review of Tourism Bodies.

[1707] 15. Mr. Kenneally asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade the plans, if any, he has to review the role of the RTOs and SFADCo in the context of the Ireland brand campaign; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6047/97]

21. Mr. O'Donoghue asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade the plans, if any, he has to change the brief, functions, directions and structures of Bord Fáilte. [6010/97]

59. Mr. R. Burke asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade the plans, if any, he has to change part of the brief of Bord Fáilte in view of the development of more defined regional tourism, a closer co-operation between Bord Fáilte and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board to market Ireland as a whole, an increasing dependence on resources outside Ireland and various niche areas within the tourism industry which have evolved their own sense of organisation in various specific areas within the tourism industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5992/97]

Minister for Tourism and Trade (Mr. E. Kenny): I propose to take Questions Nos. 15, 21 and 59 together.

As the Deputies are aware Bord Fáilte Éireann is the executive agency responsible for promoting and developing tourist traffic in and to the State, through implementation of Government policy. It is a statutory body and its powers and functions are set out in the Tourist Traffic Acts 1939-95. It is run by a board of directors appointed by the Minister for Tourism and Trade with the consent of the Minister for Finance and it is responsible to the Department of Tourism and Trade in respect of its use of Exchequer funds in pursuing its activities.

Implementation of the recommendations of the Arthur D. Little review of Bord Fáilte in 1995-96 marked the most recent major change in its structures. This has resulted in a much more focused and dynamic organisation which is now concentrating on its core activity of marketing Ireland as a tourist destination.

For some time, the board has been working in partnership with the Northern Ireland Tourism Board and with the tourism industry North and South in promoting the island of Ireland as a holiday destination, most recently in advancing the roll-out of the new brand Ireland in our key markets abroad.

Shannon Development, on the other hand, promotes development of the tourism sector in the mid-west region, a role similar to that of the regional tourism authorities. It reports to the Department of Tourism and Trade on tourism issues and funds are provided through my Department's Vote to help defray its tourism administration and general expenses.

[1708] Regional tourism authorities were initially established by Bord Fáilte in 1963 under section 5 of the Tourist Traffic Act, 1952. They are structured as private companies registered under the Companies Acts, limited by guarantee with memoranda and Article of Association which contain inter alia, stipulations relating to their management, administration and general business affairs. In accordance with their memoranda and articles, regional tourism authorities are accountable to, and obliged to operate in accordance with the policies and directions of, Bord Fáilte. The last major review of the regional tourism authorities was undertaken in 1993 and resulted in changes in their boards and representation.

Overall, I have found the tourism bodies to be responsive to and energetic in supporting the Government's tourism policies as set out primarily in the current operational programme for tourism. They work co-operatively towards the very demanding targets which have been set for the sector. Processes are in place to ensure an appropriate level of co-ordination and integration between all the main players and in particular the sector itself. Furthermore Shannon development, the regional tourism authorities, Bord Fáilte, the industry and the Department are all represented on the national tourism council which I chair and which advises me on policy matters.

Government policy for Irish tourism is being implemented in a co-ordinated and effective manner with structures in place which are responsive to the requirements of our markets and customers. But, of course, all such structures must continue to evolve and consequently will be kept constantly under review not only to assist with implementation of short-to-medium term policy adjustments, where necessary, but also to help set the parameters for the development of tourism well into the next century.