Dáil Éireann - Volume 541 - 04 October, 2001

Written Answers. - Tourism Industry.

8. Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation his estimate of the total revenue lost to the tourism sector arising from the foot and mouth scare; the visitor numbers for the first six months of 2001; the way in which this compares with the same period in 2000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22317/01]

9. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the contact or meetings he has had recently with representatives of the golfing industry; the value of the sector to the economy; the general state of this sector at present; its future projections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22425/01]

16. Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the contact or meetings he has had recently or plans to have with representatives of car hire companies to discuss the general decline in the tourist business; the state of the car hire industry including the value of the industry to the economy; its future projections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22421/01]

17. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the preliminary indications for the number of overseas visitors here for 2001; the likely impact following the acts of terrorism in America on 11 September 2001; the measures which will be taken to assist the tourism industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22312/01]

21. Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the contact or meetings he has had recently with representatives of the hotel industry; the general state of the industry; its future projections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22435/01]

28. Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the contact or meetings he has had recently with representatives of the farmhouse tourist sector; the general state of this sector; its future projections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22439/01]

30. Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation his views on whether hotels and guest houses have suffered significant loss of revenue in 2001; if he will give support to help this industry survive; his further views on whether agri-tourism has suffered more than most; his views on whether the tourist industry [826] needs added support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22477/01]

33. Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the measures he is putting in place to address the crisis in the tourism industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21856/01]

36. Mr. G. Reynolds asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the contact or meetings he has had recently with representatives of the caravan and camping industry; the general state of this sector; its future projections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22428/01]

38. Mr. Higgins (Mayo) asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation if he has discussed with the Minister for Finance the possibility of temporary deferment of PRSI and PAYE payments for certain sections of the tourism industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22423/01]

40. Mr. Finucane asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the contact or meetings he has had recently with representatives of the bed and breakfast sector; the general state of this sector; its future projections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22436/01]

43. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation if he will make a statement on the state of the tourist industry. [22471/01]

48. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the Government initiatives which he will implement to deal with the expected decimation of the US sourced tourist market for 2002 and the serious reduction already apparent in the British sourced holiday market; the way in which he proposes to deal with the change in British holiday attitudes that Ireland is now a short stay destination for British holiday makers; his primary activities in marketing Ireland to Nordic and other priority areas of Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22470/01]

50. Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the additional funding which has been made available to promote and market the tourism industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22404/01]

54. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the plans he has to counteract the repercussions on the tourism industry of the present international crisis; and the amount of additional funding being made available to implement those plans. [21721/01]

56. Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation if his attention has been drawn to the findings of the Shannon pulse survey (details supplied); the steps he will take to [827] address the crisis indicated by these figures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22318/01]

58. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation if he has devised a plan or revised existing plans or proposals for the tourist industry; if he has plans to support the tourist industry in the short, medium and long-term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22472/01]

62. Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation if he has undertaken an assessment of the likely implications for the tourism industry of the planned significant reduction in Aer Lingus routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22316/01]

167. Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the contact or meetings he has had recently with representatives of the farmhouse tourist sector; the general state of this sector; its future projections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22654/01]

168. Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the contact or meetings he has had recently with representatives of the golfing industry; the value of the sector to the economy; the general state of this sector at present; its future projections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22655/01]

169. Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the contact or meetings he has had recently with representatives of the caravan and camping industry; the general state of this sector; its future projections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22657/01]

171. Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the contact or meetings he has had recently or plans to have with representatives of car hire companies to discuss the general decline in the tourist business; the present state of the car hire industry including the value of the industry to the economy; its future projections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22660/01]

172. Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation if he has discussed the possibility of temporary deferment of PRSI and PAYE payments for certain sections of the tourism industry with the Minister for Finance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22661/01]

173. Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the additional funding which has been made available to promote and market the tourism industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22662/01]

[828] 174. Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the estimated total number of tourists who visited Ireland; the value of these visits to the economy in 2000; the number of these who originated in North America; the estimated amount spent by North American visitors here in 2000; his projections for 2001; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22663/01]

176. Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the contact or meetings he has had recently with representatives of the hotel industry; the general state of the industry; its future projections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22665/01]

177. Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the contact or meetings he has had recently with representatives of the bed and breakfast sector; the general state of this sector; its future projections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22666/01]

180. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation his plans to support the tourism industry in the wake of international security concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22669/01]

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation (Dr. McDaid): I propose to take Questions

Nos. 8, 9, 16, 17, 21, 28, 30, 33, 36, 38, 40, 43, 48, 50, 54, 56, 58, 62, 167 to 169, inclusive, 171 to 174, inclusive, 176, 177 and 180 together.

As I have already indicated in my reply to the Priority Questions on this subject, in 2000, there were 6.3 million overseas visitors to Ireland who contributed an estimated £2.2 billion or 2.8 billion in foreign revenue earnings, excluding Irish carrier receipts which amounted to £0.6 billion or .75 billion. There were 1.1 million visitors from North America who contributed almost £560 million, 710 million, or 25% of foreign revenue earnings.

No official estimates are as yet available in relation to the loss of tourism business from the United States and elsewhere arising from the tragic events of 11 September 2001. However, although it is accepted that it is still too early to assess the overall impact on international travel patterns, it is clear that the terrorist attacks in the US are likely to significantly impact on visitor numbers to Ireland, in particular from America, for the balance of this year and into 2002, leading to the first annual decline in visitor numbers for a decade.

The latest official CSO tourism and travel statistics, published on Friday, 28 September, indicate that earnings from overseas visitors to Ireland during the first half of 2001 showed an increase of 3.8% to £1.3 billion or 1.65 billion on the same period last year. Overall visitor numbers for the first half of 2001 were down 5.2% to 2.7 million on the same period last year, with the [829] slowdown being most acute in the case of Great Britain and North America. Bord Fáilte now estimate that total overseas visitor numbers for 2001 are likely to show a further reduction on that figure following the terrorist attacks. In my public comment on the latest CSO figures, I said that I was very aware that the impact of the slowdown in visitor numbers this year varies from sector to sector and between regions and that the national trends mask significant variations at local and enterprise level.

Bord Fáilte's original estimate for 2001 was for an increase of 5% in overall visitor numbers, although that estimate had been revised significantly downwards in the light of the anticipated adverse impact of the foot and mouth disease emergency earlier this year. Ironically, it was clear from earlier mid-year surveys by Bord Fáilte and Shannon Development that Irish tourism was beginning to show signs of recovery from this setback, mainly due to the early lifting of the major FMD restrictions in line with expert technical advice and subsequently, due to the beneficial impact of a targeted £10 million international and domestic tourism marketing reassurance campaign by Bord Fáilte.

Since the tragic events of 11 September, both myself and officials of my Department have met with senior management of both Bord Fáilte and Tourism Ireland Limited – the new all island tourism marketing company – and with a high level delegation from the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation – ITIC – to take stock of the situation and to put in place arrangements to ensure that marketing strategies will be developed to deal with the fall-out from the recent atrocity for the remainder of this years' season and for 2002. Critical fact.ors will include not only the nature and duration of the response to the terrorists attacks, but also the speed with which public confidence in air travel can be restored.

As Deputies are aware, ITIC is the principal representative body of the tourism industry and its membership includes hotel and other accommodation associations, such as the bed and breakfast's, the air and sea carriers, other transport groups and tour operators. In our meetings and contacts with ITIC, the various members of the Confederation have an opportunity to brief me and my Department on key issues affecting their individual sectors and their future plans and projections.

I believe that given the changed environment, it is vitally important that there is a root and branch reassessment of our tourism marketing strategies, including how and where we focus our business, so that the substantial Exchequer funding already allocated for this area under the national development plan has maximum impact. The Exchequer budget for tourism this year will be close to £90 million or 114 million, the lion's share of which is allocated for tourism marketing activities.

Last Thursday, Bord Fáilte and Tourism [830] Ireland Limited confirmed that they were urgently re-examining, in consultation with the tourism industry and through the tourism marketing partnership structure, their respective marketing programmes and plans for the remainder of 2001 and for 2002. Bord Fáilte announced late last week a £750,000 or 950,000 programme of additional immediate measures for the British and Irish markets. Meanwhile, the new chief executive of Tourism Ireland Limited is already spear-heading the review of marketing plans for 2002 with the intention of making a major announcement early next month in conjunction with the launch of a new advertising campaign for the island of Ireland. These moves have been welcomed by ITIC and I am grateful for their measured response to the current situation.

I would expect that these reviews of marketing programmes and plans would take into account the issues raised in some of the Deputies' questions as regards changes in British holiday patterns and the need to exploit potential marketing opportunities in the Nordic and other European countries.

The Government are also very conscious of the important link between competitive air access and future tourism flows and have been working closely with the Irish aviation sector to help resolve recent difficulties and to help preserve the greatest number of international gateways. My Department has been keeping in close consultation with the Department of Public Enterprise in recent days and I particularly welcome today's announcement by Aer Rianta to extend their discount scheme for new routes to Dublin Airport. Under this scheme there will be no charges for new routes for three years. I also welcome the very attractive discount return fare of $198 introduced by Aer Lingus for its services from New York and Boston to Ireland up to mid-December.

Given the changed circumstances, I also believe that it is vitally important to quickly bed down the process of institutional change now under way in the tourism State Agencies which have remained unchanged in structure since the early 1960s. It will be critical to complete an orderly handover of responsibility to Tourism Ireland Limited in time for the 2002 marketing season. I also welcome the initial positive expression of support from the council of CERT and the board of Bord Fáilte to the proposed creation of a new integrated tourism development agency. My intention is that we have strong structures in place to implement our medium-term plans for international marketing, product and human resource development as contained in the national development plan in order to help the tourism industry to meet the major challenges that lie ahead.

I have not discussed the possibility of temporary deferment of tax liabilities for the tourism industry with the Minister for Finance but I understand that in so far as particular cash flow problems arise for individual businesses, the Revenue does as part of normal arrangements look [831] sympathetically at payment arrangements on a case by case basis in individual cases where problems are being experienced as a result of a cash flow crisis suffered by the business.