Dáil Éireann - Volume 475 - 05 March, 1997

Written Answers. - Tourism Promotion.

[1720] 35. Mr. O'Malley asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade his views on the need to target tourism promotion more specifically to the appropriate time of the year in order to achieve greater growth in year round tourism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6018/97]

60. Mr. Ellis asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade the percentage of tourists who visited Ireland in the peak season in 1990 and in 1996; the projected outcome for the year 2000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6037/97]

Minister for Tourism and Trade (Mr. E. Kenny): I propose to take Questions Nos. 35 and 60 together.

During 1990, 30 per cent of overseas tourists visited Ireland during the peak period of July and August. While there has been growth of 53 per cent in overall visitor numbers since then, the percentage arriving during the peak period in 1996 was down to 28 per cent.

As I said in reply to a question on 30 January, specific targets have been set under the Operational Programme for Tourism 1994-1999 for improving tourism activity in the shoulder and off-peak seasons. At the beginning of the programme 30 per cent of visitors came to Ireland during the peak season and our aim is to have 25 per cent of visitors arrive in the peak period by 1999. The mid-term target set out in the programme is for 28 per cent of visitors to arrive in July-August and I am happy to say that this target was reached during 1996.

To achieve the overall 1999 target we need to increase activities during the off-peak season. As part of our campaign many initiatives are currently under way. On 15 January I launched the Celtic Flame Music Festival. This initiative is based on the recommendation of the tourism council and its aim is to further build tourism in the off-season. Festival events took place in Galway from 20 to 23 February, in Cork from 25 February to 2 March and will take place in Limerick from 7 to 9 March next. These events will serve to act as a lively lead-in to the St. Patrick's festivities in Dublin which I am convinced have the potential to become a further major attraction in the shoulder period.

Additionally, on 10 February, Deputy O'Sullivan, Minister of State, launched the 1997 domestic tourism marketing initiative. This major boost to domestic tourism will provide an added impetus to tourism in the off-season.

At the level of product, the improvement in the range and quality of weather independent facilities in recent years and the substantial investment in the marketing of these facilities is designed to improve the seasonality profile of the industry. The assistance which the industry has received under the tourism operational programme has been of considerable benefit in this regard.

It will also serve to complement the success so far of the overseas tourism marketing initiative, [1721] which is a State-industry partnership marketing initiative promoting Ireland on a year round basis in our key markets and whose many campaigns are directed at attracting visitors outside the peak season.

Finally, the launch last year of Tourism Brand Ireland formed a key part of a new strategic approach to marketing designed to address major issues such as yield, regional spread and seasonality. The advertising emphasis is on aspects of the Irish holiday such as human interaction, culture and historical heritage, which are not season-dependent.