Dáil Éireann - Volume 522 - 29 June, 2000
Written Answers. - Tourism Industry.
Mr. Deasy Mr. Deasy
239. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation if he has satisfied himself with the quality of service being provided in the tourist industry in general, be it in hotels, restaurants, shops or public transport. [19018/00]
Dr. McDaid Dr. McDaid
Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation (Dr. McDaid): As I have said on previous occasions, I consider it extremely important that we do not lose the uniqueness of the Irish welcome for visitors to this country. I think it vitally important that the quality of service offered to visitors from abroad and indeed to those who choose to holiday at home, whether for shorter or longer breaks, is maintained at the highest levels. It is only by maintaining a pool of highly motivated, productive, committed and skilled labour within the industry that we will ensure that holiday makers impressed by the service offered, will return to holiday here or encourage their friends to join with them in experiencing the delights of a holiday in Ireland.
The tourism industry is a global one and we must ensure that our competitiveness is maintained in attracting visitors to this country. We have over the years invested heavily to create a tourism product which is the envy of our competitors. We must continue to improve and grow to ensure that that we do not lose the competitive edge that we have strived so hard to achieve.
 The industry itself must work to maintain standards. In this respect I very much welcome recent initiatives from the Irish Hotels Federation, who have introduced a quality employer scheme and from the Restaurants Association of Ireland who have developed a customer charter. These and similar initiatives are very much needed in this service oriented industry.
There is a danger that service standards may be adversely affected in our growing economy where employees now have greater opportunities to move within and between sectors, and where there are shortages of skilled and trained staff. The tourism sector is no exception with respect to these factors. In certain areas of the industry there are staff turnover, staff retention and skill shortage problems. However the industry is working to address the situation by offering better terms and conditions of employment. By doing so employers can ensure that staff within the industry and those considering entering it will view the sector as an attractive one to work in, with good career prospects.
For the above reasons I was very pleased yesterday, 28 June to launch CERT's strategic plan, which sets out CERT's vision of its role and its plans for the development of the Irish tourism and hospitality industry over the six-year period to 2006. As I noted at the launch, the overall aim of the plan is to help industry secure and retain a professional and skilled workforce to meet existing and emerging needs of the industry, thereby enhancing the quality of the tourism product and service. This plan is an important milestone in the process of rolling out new programmes under the national development plan. Activities to be undertaken by CERT during the period will facilitate raising and maintaining the highest operational standards in tourism. They will help the industry to ensure that it has available to it a skilled workforce to meet the demands of the ever increasing number of visitors to this country where people and service quality impressions are of major importance to the projection of the unique Irish tourist brand.
Dáil Éireann 522 Written Answers. Tourism Industry.