Dáil Éireann - Volume 614 - 14 February, 2006
Written Answers. - Tourism Industry.
Mr. Kenny Mr. Kenny
394. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the breakdown of the projected figure of 8.5 million visitors here for 2006; the specifics of the multifaceted strategy to be  adopted to accelerate the promotion of the regions of Ireland overseas; the projected spend of the €5 million allocated for this purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5127/06]
Mr. O’Donoghue Mr. O’Donoghue
Mr. O’Donoghue: Given that the State received just about 7 million visitors in 2005, the figure of 8.5 million clearly does not represent a visitor growth target for the State for 2006. Most likely the Deputy is referring to the all-Ireland visitor growth target set by Tourism Ireland for 2006. To support Tourism Ireland in its work, I have secured an unprecedented level of Exchequer resources for tourism development —€134 million for 2006 — representing an increase of 7% on 2005. This investment will enable the tourism agencies — Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland — to deliver, in full, their ambitious plans for 2006 which will include a strong emphasis on addressing regional spread.
The increased marketing funding — up almost €5 million on 2005 — will enable both agencies to step up significantly their game on the marketing front this year. In securing the largest ever allocation of €40 million for the tourism marketing fund, I have specifically asked the agencies to focus on stimulating regional spread, promoting greater usage of special interest products, capitalising on air access developments and enhancing their e-marketing capabilities. Specific details of Tourism Ireland’s marketing strategy for 2006 were announced in December last at a major event involving the industry and media, which I attended, and are freely available on the agency’s website. Fáilte Ireland’s calendar of promotions is similarly available on its website. As I said at the December launch, marketing campaigns of this nature are best left to the experts in the field and I am confident that the two agencies will deploy this funding to optimal effect.
Mr. Kenny Mr. Kenny
395. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the estimated number of holidays trips abroad in 2006 by Irish people; the estimated spend involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5128/06]
Mr. O’Donoghue Mr. O’Donoghue
Mr. O’Donoghue: As the Deputy will be aware, I have no remit in relation to outbound tourism. As such, neither my Department nor its agencies has any estimates of the number of Irish people travelling abroad or their expenditure.
It is clear from CSO figures that outbound tourism in the last three years has grown at a higher rate than inbound tourism. Ireland’s econ omic prosperity, particularly in comparison with that of our main tourism markets, coupled with the greatly improved access to foreign tourist destinations has undoubtedly contributed to this trend. However, it is also clear that our prosperity has fuelled significant growth in domestic tourism. CSO figures over the last five years show domestic holiday trips have increased by 32% and expenditure is up by over 50% over that period.
Against a backdrop of intense international competition for Irish holidaymakers, Fáilte Ireland — which is responsible for promoting the home market — has significantly stepped up its home holiday campaigns in recent years, backed by significant Exchequer resources.
Mr. Kenny Mr. Kenny
396. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the measures which will be taken in 2006 to address the clear disparity of visitors among regions here; the schedule of actions to be taken and promotions undertaken to address this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5131/06]
Mr. O’Donoghue Mr. O’Donoghue
Mr. O’Donoghue: As I previously advised the House, individual actions and measures relating to tourism promotion or development in so far as specific areas of the country are concerned are day-to-day functions of the State tourism agencies. Arising from the “New Horizons” policy review, national tourism policy has seen a particular emphasis on putting measures in place to achieve a wider regional spread of tourism business. This is especially important as the increase in shorter breaks and urban tourism continue to bite in rural areas.
In 2006, Fáilte Ireland will invest in excess of €60 million in developing regional tourism, from supporting local festivals to building capability and strengthening the tourism product itself. With regard to the promotion and development of tourism by the regions themselves, the authority will channel in the region of €10 million of this sum directly into the regional tourism companies to strengthen and enhance their operational and marketing capabilities this year. This investment is designed to ensure both a high quality visitor servicing experience at key tourist information offices and also a strong overseas promotional effort.
Both Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland are rolling out a number of very innovative approaches in 2006 which should heighten the regional impact of Ireland’s marketing activities both nationally and overseas. Fáilte Ireland is introducing a new local area marketing fund to support the industry in generating additional business in 2006 and 2007. Recognising the importance of home holidays at regional level, the authority will invest €4 million to sustain the recent remarkable growth in the home market  and it will also advertise domestic holidays and short breaks 44 weeks a year in order to reach and stimulate the impulse market. Fáilte Ireland’s website www.ireland.ie generated half a million direct sales leads to the tourism industry during 2005.
On the basis that activities and attractions — things to do and see — are central to increasing spend per visitor, Fáilte Ireland will continue to assist in product development including developing and promoting looped walks, angling, festivals, cycling routes, equestrian, golfing and water based activities. In addition, a new €1 million innovation fund will be made available to industry groups seeking to develop and market new tourism initiatives.
The recruitment and training of people to work in tourism remains a key issue for the industry across all regions. In response, Fáilte Ireland has decided to deliver 80 return to work programmes in 55 locations and four temporary training centres will also be set up to attract approximately 500 local people into tourism. The programmes run at these workshops have proved to be extremely popular as a means of providing training relevant to the needs of local employers. Fáilte Ireland also recognises the particular pressures on small tourism businesses, and, in response, is establishing tourism business networks in every county in the country as a practical step to helping small businesses address their own development needs.
Tourism Ireland, for its part, will invest an estimated €5 million in 2006 specifically to support promotion of the regions of Ireland overseas and will engage in additional, co-operative marketing with all regions. Key activities include presenting “super region” brands based on strategic marketing alliances between adjoining neighbour regions. Building on the success of the “Go West” initiative, which was launched last year, Tourism Ireland is proposing an enhanced joint marketing programme for the regions. The campaigns will highlight the attractions of the area, ease of access and present good value packages from the industry to consumers in the key markets of Great Britain and mainland Europe. It will present and promote a series of all-island tourist theme trails or “rainbow routes” to help tourists get the most out of their visit. Themes will include music, gourmet, literature, history, Christian heritage, houses and gardens and will be cross-regional. It will further promote and support regional access development as well as reinvigorating the car touring sector.
As the Deputy will appreciate, visitors cannot be forced to go to a particular location against their will. The responsibility primarily lies with the individual communities and operators in the regions to present and market compelling attractions, facilities, accommodation and experiences that deliver value for money and quality service. The Deputy will be aware that the initiatives to  which I have already referred are being undertaken against a backdrop of a restructuring and refocusing of the delivery of tourism at regional level that will effectively lead to the provision of a one-stop-shop for the tourism industry in the regions, with strong regional representation.
This revision of regional tourism structures, which I have fully endorsed, is based on the PricewaterhouseCoopers, PWC, and Travers reports on how best Fáilte Ireland might carry out its development mandate countrywide. The PWC report highlights the need for a much wider and strategic brief for regional tourism. It recommends a greatly increased emphasis on targeted marketing, product development and enterprise support and suggests establishing an integrated linkage between regional tourism strategy and national policy and exploiting avenues to leverage increased resources. An implementation group, chaired by Mr. Finbarr Flood, was established to assist Fáilte Ireland in implementing the recommendations of the two reports. Fáilte Ireland expects that changes on foot of this work will be seen in the regions later this year.
Dáil Éireann 614 Written Answers. Tourism Industry.