Dáil Éireann - Volume 568 - 12 June, 2003

Written Answers. - Tourism Industry.

  18. Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if his attention has been drawn to the recent report prepared by CERT warning that tourism operators were in danger of losing business if they do not become more environmentally aware. [16140/03]

  Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism (Mr. O'Donoghue): I am aware that Fáilte Ireland, formerly CERT, recently launched “The Green Agenda – The Challenge for Irish Tourism & Hospitality”, a major study on the increased importance of environmental issues for the Irish tourism industry and their practical implications for the individual firm.

  The quality of the environment is at the heart of Ireland's attraction as a tourist destination and the objective of securing an environmentally sustainable tourism sector is clearly articulated in the strategy statement for my Department, published recently. Achievement of this objective is being pursued through the tourism marketing and prod[893] uct development policies agreed with, and implemented by, the tourism agencies. Both Tourism Ireland Limited and Fáilte Ireland regard spatially balanced tourism as a key component of their marketing strategies, with an appropriate emphasis on both seasonal and geographical spread of business.

  This concept is reflected in Fáilte Ireland's tourism product development scheme where the overall objective is to develop the tourism product in an environmental and sustainable way that widens the spatial spread of tourism, diverts pressure from highly developed areas and increases the Border midland and western region's share of national overseas tourism revenue. This will be achieved by concentrating support on a limited number of new visitor attractions, on marketable clusters of existing day visitor attractions that have yet to achieve their full tourism potential, on a series of special interest activities to meet identified niche markets and on specific tourism and the environment initiatives in the more established tourism areas.

  There can be no doubt that there are considerable benefits to be gained for both the individual enterprise and the industry as a whole in implementing best practice environmental management. Such benefits include a decrease in costs, the reduction of waste, the opening up of potential new markets, and the benefits for individual enterprises associated with having a socially responsible attitude to the environment.

  The challenge for the Irish tourism and hospitality industry now is to implement sustainable tourism initiatives at local and at national level while at the same time maintaining overall competitiveness. In this it will have the full support of Fáilte Ireland who will be seeking to redress the major barriers to the greening of Irish tourism through the implementation of initiatives identified under the recent study.

  Question No. 19 answered with Question No. 15.