Dáil Éireann - Volume 615 - 01 March, 2006

Written Answers. - Official Travel.

  39. Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the position regarding his recent visit to India; the efforts he made to promote Irish tourism and the arts here during that trip; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8192/06]

  Mr. O’Donoghue: I visited India last January as part of a major mission led by the Taoiseach. The purpose of this mission, which visited Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai, was to move the long-standing relationship between Ireland and India to a broader and deeper level of co-operation and partnership, particularly in the light of India’s emerging importance as a global player.

The departmental objectives of my participation in the mission to India were fourfold: (1) to sign, on behalf of the Government, a cultural co-operation agreement with India; (2) to promote tourism; (3) to promote Ireland as a location for Indian film-makers; and (4) to promote Ireland as a source of high-quality thoroughbred mares and stallions for the Indian market.

In relation to cultural co-operation, I signed an agreement with India on 19 January 2006 in the presence of the two Heads of Government. My Department has begun work on a draft implementation framework which it will submit to the Indian side in due course with a view to seeing tangible benefits flowing from this agreement.

India is now emerging as a significant outbound tourism market. Tourism Ireland has established an office in Mumbai and there were two tourism-related functions, one in Delhi and one in Mumbai. The Taoiseach and I attended and spoke at both events.

There was a very strong turn-out and an excellent response from the trade. Media presence and coverage was extensive and very positive and did a lot to start building a wider awareness of Ireland as a destination.

India is home to the largest film industry in the world, in terms of number of full length features made. The two film boards, North and South, in [1766] conjunction with Tourism Ireland, used the mission to highlight the attractions of Ireland as a location for Indian movies.

In recent years India has become a growing market for Irish thoroughbreds. There were three thoroughbred-related events, including a very successful first running of the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing sponsored Irish trophy race at Mumbai racecourse which, I am pleased to say, was won by an Irish horse ridden by an Irish jockey.