Dáil Éireann - Volume 475 - 05 March, 1997

Written Answers. - Tourism Funding.

33. Mr. E. Ryan asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade if the Government intends to continue realistic funding of Irish tourism post 1999; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5993/97]

49. Mr. Morley asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade if he agrees with Irish Tourish Industry Confederation (ITIC) that the current levels of EU funding for the tourism industry will fall dramatically after 1999 in view of ITIC's Review of the Year, published in December 1996; and that the Government should initiate active consultations with the various sectors of the industry to develop alternative sources of revenue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5976/97]

62. Dr. Moffatt asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade the strategy, if any, the Government is pursuing in relation to the financial framework of the EU post-1999, relating to tourism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6033/97]

Minister for Tourism and Trade (Mr. E. Kenny): I propose to take Questions Nos. 33, 49 and 62 together.

Together with the tourism industry, I have been conscious for some time of the need to plan properly for the time when the current round of EU Structural Funds expires at the end of 1999. The issue has surfaced already in a number of fora such as the tourism council, the overseas tourism marketing initiative and in bilateral contacts between ITIC-industry representatives and my Department. I have referred to the matter in many speeches over the past two years in which I have exhorted the industry to build on its successes, particularly during this decade, by taking on more responsibility for the development, training and marketing of its own product. More [1719] recently, I have indicated to Bord Fáilte and the sector that my Department has already begun to look at possible scenarios for post-1999, with a view to future consulation and discussion with the industry on this subject. This work will, of course, also provide the necessary background to future negotiations with the European Commission in the lead up to the completion of the current operational programme for tourism which runs up to end 1999.

As to the matter of the EU financial framework post-1999, I understand from the Minister for Finance that the negotiations on the future financing of the European Union, including the structural funds, will not commence until after the conclusion of the intergovernmental conference at which stage the European Commission will submit a communication on the future financial framework as from 31 December 1999. This could happen as early as the second half of 1997. Ireland's overall approach to these negotiations is still under consideration and the House can be assured that when the negotiations commence, the Government will ensure that Ireland's interests are vigorously and effectively pursued.