Dáil Éireann - Volume 672 - 28 January, 2009
Written Answers. - Tourism Industry.
Deputy John Deasy Deputy John Deasy
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he is satisfied that the terms of the mid-Shannon tax corridor initiative are consistent with achieving the objectives of the scheme and are benefiting Shannon region tourism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2356/09]
Deputy Martin Cullen Deputy Martin Cullen
Deputy Martin Cullen: The Mid-Shannon Tourism Infrastructure Investment Scheme, which was introduced in section 29 of the Finance Act 2007 and launched in June 2008, provides tax incentives for investment in tourism attractions and facilities in the designated Mid-Shannon Corridor. The Mid-Shannon Tourism Investment Board, selected by the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, in consultation with the Minister for Finance, is to examine proposals and to approve those which meet the criteria set out in Guidelines to the Board. Only those projects that are approved beforehand and certified after completion, by the Board, will benefit from the incentives.
This will ensure that investment takes place in line with the carefully prepared strategies of the agencies and that projects meet standards of quality. The Guidelines also set out the classes of facilities that have been identified as most appropriate and needed in the Mid-Shannon Corridor. Among the qualifying activities included under the Scheme are:
water sports activities, boat rental and inland cruising;
visitor attractions and centres;
wellness amenities and spa facilities;
caravan and camping parks and holiday camps; and
certain restaurants and cafes.
The Guidelines have been designed to encourage the development of appropriate facilities, to the high standards expected by our tourism customers. I am satisfied that the terms set out in the Guidelines are appropriate if we are to maximise the tourism assets of the Mid-Shannon Corridor.
The Mid Shannon Tax Incentive Scheme is a welcome addition to the range of supports available to the tourism agencies in their effort to promote the development of the tourism business in the lower reaches of the Shannon basin. The scheme has been warmly embraced by Fáilte Ireland and Shannon Development and they have jointly promoted it extensively across the eligible catchment areas and through the relevant professional bodies. Between them, they have held 10 seminars and workshops for the private sector and professional groups. Over 300 people have attended these. Additional briefings have been held for key stakeholders such as local authorities, planning departments and local tourism groups.
While there have been no formal submissions to date, the executive teams in the two agencies are currently working with potential investors in exploring their projects and the funding options available to get them to a point of making formal submissions. I am advised that there  are a number of quality projects in the pipeline which it is hoped will be submitted before the May 31st deadline in place. This Scheme, while in many respects similar to others which have preceded it, is in crucial ways quite new and innovative. It is in the nature of innovation that elements are experimental and may be subject to review in the light of experience as well as external developments.
My Department, in conjunction with the Department of Finance, the Mid-Shannon Tourism Infrastructure Board, Fáilte Ireland and Shannon Development, is continuing to keep the terms of the Scheme under review with a view to identifying any necessary changes. Any review of the Scheme in terms of the deadlines set is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Finance in the first instance.
Dáil Éireann 672 Written Answers. Tourism Industry.