Seanad Éireann - Volume 131 - 12 February, 1992
Tourism Industry: Motion (Resumed).
Debate resumed on the following motion:
That Seanad Éireann notes the increase in tourist revenue during 1991 and welcomes the Government's continuing commitment to the Irish tourist industry, as outlined in the recent budget initiatives.
Acting Chairman (Mr. Foley) Acting Chairman (Mr. Foley)
Acting Chairman (Mr. Foley): At the outset it is most appropriate and gives me pleasure to congratulate and welcome the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications, Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn. I wish her well in her new portfolio. I have no doubt she will be a tremendous success.
Mrs. Honan Mrs. Honan
Mrs. Honan: I would like to go on record, as a long serving Member of this House, as warmly and sincerely welcoming the Minister, Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn. I am absolutely delighted she is back in the Cabinet. It is most appropriate that she should be there. In assigning that portfolio to her the Taoiseach has demonstrated his absolute confidence in her that she will carry it out with distinction, grace and charm. Coming as I do from a neighbouring constituency and as a former Cathaoirleach of  the Seanad I sincerely and warmly welcome the Minister to Seanad Éireann. I wish her, as I am sure do all my colleagues, two and a half years in this Cabinet and many years in the Cabinet that will follow the next general election.
Mr. Staunton Mr. Staunton
Mr. Staunton: Before I speak on the motion I would like to add my voice to that of Senator Honan in welcoming the Minister to this House. I had the pleasure a few minutes ago of privately congratulating her. She is in a most important Department and she will be in a position to do a great deal for the west especially in the tourist sector. I regard it as a very solid appointment by the Taoiseach and I wish her every success. Like Senator Honan, I come from a neighbouring constituency of the Minister and we are a fairly clannish lot in that part of the country.
Mrs. Honan Mrs. Honan
Mrs. Honan: And we will remain that way.
Mr. Staunton Mr. Staunton
Mr. Staunton: It is two and a half months or two and a half years to the next general election?
Mrs. Honan Mrs. Honan
Mrs. Honan: Two and a half years and she will be in the Cabinet which will follow.
Mr. Staunton Mr. Staunton
Mr. Staunton: Coming from Westport in west Mayo, I have been involved with tourist issues since I was a child. I have seen the immense benefit the development of the tourist industry has been to west Mayo. If one takes a broad look at the west in terms of its strengths and weaknesses, there are enormous weaknesses in terms of its remoteness, the length of time it takes to get goods to markets and the high cost of freight charges. It is not a logical place in which to base most heavy industries. There are problems in tackling intensive agriculture. On the other side of the coin there are certain strengths, such as the fishing industry and the potential for tourism.
 The more I travel, the more I appreciate where I come from and the values and strengths we have with magnificent unpolluted beaches in a polluted world. County Mayo has about a quarter of the Blue Ribbon beaches in Ireland. We do not have major urban conurbations. We do not have urban pollution. We do not have industrial or marine pollution. We have an environment that is unique in the world today and we must take all possible care to nurture it.
I applaud the development of Knock Airport. When it was less popular many years ago, I was a great fan of that development and of Monsignor Horan. There were many people who were critical of the cost of that airport but when one looks back now, a strip was constructed which can take in jumbo jets, at a total cost of about £11 or £12 million. In contrast to that, the recent building of a single runway at Dublin Airport had a budget of about £40 million. To put it into context, Knock Airport was a magnificent development in which the State got huge benefits in terms of its capital investment. It is a landmark to the man who created it and I am delighted to see it there. The airport is a huge bonus to Bord Fáilte and to the State and many visitors fly in directly from London. It is an admirable development but there are problems there which we must meet.
There is a great dissatisfaction in Mayo at present about air fares into Knock airport. Ryanair in the past provided a reasonable service. Perhaps it is the existence of a monopoly which gives them the idea that they can charge more than they should. The charges are unacceptable. Around Christmas time, someone in my family was coming from London and wanted to fly to Knock. The cheapest possible return air fare was about £205. I asked if that person were flying from London to Dublin what the fare would be and was told it would be about £100 return. The return fare from London to Knock was £205 while the return fare from London to Dublin was £100. A person with limited income could fly into Dublin, buy a return train ticket from Heuston Station to Westport for about  £18 or £20 and save about £80 in the process; I know of many people in the west who do this because of the difference in air fares. I ask the Minister to investigate this matter.
The Minister might also look at the lack of reciprocation between Aer Lingus and Ryanair because most major airlines reciprocate where ticketing arrangements are concerned. When British Airways were flying into Dublin, if you flew out on an Aer Lingus flight and had a conventional type ticket, you were not obliged to come back on an Aer Lingus flight. There was reciprocation between the two airlines which was a valuable asset. If one flies from Dublin to Heathrow on an Aer Lingus flight and wishes to fly back to Knock, one must travel with Ryanair. Due to lack of reciprocation, the only way one can do so is to buy a single Aer Lingus ticket from Dublin to one of the two London Airports they fly into and buy a single Ryanair ticket back to Knock. That is madness because one pays double or treble the air fare.
I had the experience in Manchester Airport one morning of having an Aer Lingus return ticket to Dublin where my car was parked. The plane, which was coming from Zurich, was held up due to engine trouble. Three or four hours passed at which point a Ryanair plane was going to Knock airport which is close to where I live. I asked for reciprocation and even though Aer Lingus were at fault because their plane was three or four hours late, there was no reciprocation and I had to buy a ticket there and then for the privilege of getting on the Ryanair flight to Knock Airport. That is quite unacceptable. British Midland sought reciprocation with Aer Lingus and were refused and the case was to go to the European Court of Justice. There is reciprocation between the Netherlands and Britain and with KLM and Aer Lingus and it would be only sensible for people in the west to have the benefit of reciprocation. The national airline is accountable to the Minister. Ryanair are not entirely independent because, through the munificence of the Minister,  they have special concessions into Stansted. I would like the Minister to look into that whole area.
We are thrilled with the developments over the last two decades in the Mayo/Galway region. Westport is the second largest centre in the region after Galway-Salthill. Last year, it was staggering to see the numbers of foreign visitors. I mentioned last week the number of Italian visitors. The preliminary tourist numbers published for 1991 by Bord Fáilte showed a 33 per cent increase, about three times greater than the increase from any other country. We need to develop that area. There is still scope for major tourist investment and the Government can use European Community Structural Funds to fund needy developments in growth centres.
Westport needs a first class conference centre. If the town had such a facility it could attract visitors off-season. It is a venue which has many other advantages: It has excellent hotels, marvellous guest-house accommodation, good eating houses, a first-class golf course, a bay, beautiful scenery and the people have been educated to deal with tourists.
Senator Ryan made a very unusual statement last week when he said we would be much better off developing fishing in the west rather than tourism. That was an extraordinary statement. I am all for developing fishing but it is compatible with the development of tourism.
I wanted to mention mining and how at Croagh Patrick, Doo Lough and Delphi vigilant local committees are protecting the environment, but that is for another day.
Mr. McGowan Mr. McGowan
Mr. McGowan: I join with Senator Honan in congratulating the Minister and welcoming her to the Seanad. The people in the west and particularly in my county, rejoice in her appointment. I attended the bishops conference in Sligo and listened intently to the ground that was covered by those who honestly expressed their concern. The Government have made an important response by appointing the Minister who has wide experience  of the difficulties in the west. I and others enthusiastically look forward to her contributions.
Donegal is a county with vast potential for tourism, an industry which has the capacity to provide jobs. This has been recognised by the vocational committee and has resulted in the establishment of a hotel training college in Killybegs. Some 500 students from all over the country attend there.
I ask the Minister to look at the case which has been made for the provision of an airport or an air-strip at Letterkenny. The Cabinet may say there is an airport at Eglinton, County Derry and another in North Donegal and that we do not need a third airport in that region. I would remind the Minister that my county does not benefit from the £120 million that is pumped into Irish Rail because we have no railhead; Irish Shipping accumulated losses of £40 million and natural gas has been developed.
I am highlighting areas of high expenditure which have not benefited the people in the west or in Donegal and that must be recognised when an application for funding in rural areas is made. A case will be made to the Minister to consider the location of an airstrip at Letterkenny. At present, 32 private coach operators transport people from Dublin to Donegal.
In Donegal we have areas of major importance, such as Portnoo and Portsalon. If these two areas were developed many jobs would be created in the tourist industry. In Donegal we are giving attention to development of the tourist industry. We are involved in hotel training and catering. There is vast potential for development and we are confident that with the Minister's understanding of the value of tourism, her attitude towards people and projects and her easy style and approach, we will go forward. The appointment of the new Government and of the Minister has been a good day for the west. I wish the Minister good luck in her task.
Mr. Mooney Mr. Mooney
 Mr. Mooney: Donegal cannot be refused now.
Mrs. Hederman Mrs. Hederman
Mrs. Hederman: I wish to join with other Senators in welcoming the Minister and say how delighted I am that not only is there at least one woman in this Cabinet but we have a woman of outstanding ability. She will bring the talent and ability she has shown in her previous appointments to this exciting Department she has now taken over.
In 1987 the Government set a target for doubling tourism potential between the years 1988 and 1993 and they set the objective of getting £500 million in additional revenue and an extra 25,000 new jobs. These were ambitious targets but they were realisable. The Government are correct in pinning much of their hopes for job creation on the tourist industry. I know that between the period 1987 and 1991 tourism claims to have created 17,500 new jobs, which is 37 per cent of the new jobs created in that period.
Tourism is a service industry. If is very much a labour intensive industry and for that reason it can, if properly handled, if the commitment is maintained by the Government and, above all, if the resources are put into it, make an important contribution to the economy. It is fair to say that when capital is scarce, which it always will be and certainly is at the moment, it is important that we use our capital resources in areas where the yield can be of greatest benefit.
The year just passed has undoubtedly been a difficult one for tourism all over the world, and Ireland is no exception. International tourism was down and there are a number of factors for this, the most obvious ones being the Gulf War and the recession, particularly in Great Britain and the United States. In spite of that, the figures Bord Fáilte will publish for last year will show that total overseas visitor numbers were still within about 2 per cent of the 1990 record, which was 3.1 million, the highest figure ever. It is interesting to look at those figures and see that while tourism from Great Britain was down by 1.9 per cent, from mainland  Europe the figure was up by a very encouraging 13 per cent. This to a large extent is where our future lies. The majority of tourists who come here from Europe are discerning, sophisticated tourists for whom Ireland has a great appeal.
The tourism figures for North America were particularly disappointing, down by 21 per cent. As I said, the Americans are always uneasy about travel when there is war on anywhere in the world. In spite of this, Bord Fáilte have, I understand, ambitious targets for 1992. They hope to increase the numbers from Britain by 7.4 per cent, from mainland Europe by 19 per cent, from North America by 15 per cent and from the rest of the world by 12 per cent. These are ambitious targets, an 11.6 per cent increase overall. They can achieve this but the budget allocation made to them this year has been disappointingly low. In 1990 their budget allocation was £20.513 million. In 1991 it went up to £21.892 million but in 1992 that figure was down to £21.5 million. When one takes inflation into account this figure in real terms is considerably down.
Bord Fáilte have to contend with fierce competition from other parts of the world. There is no point in imagining that because we have what we consider to be an attractive product, an unpolluted country, though I am not quite so sure that image is still as real as it used to be, Bord Fáilte do not need to open up new markets or extend markets. I am sorry to see that their allocation is down as this will mean a tighter rein on their advertising and promotional campaigns. I do not believe that in view of this decrease in their allocation they will be able to fully exploit the market potential, especially in the more productive markets. They need to attack news segments and new markets.
The Japanese market has fantastic potential. Only 10,000 people from Japan came to Ireland in 1991. This is a tiny fraction of the Japanese who come to Europe. I do not know what the figure is but one only has to travel in any part of Europe, particularly in England, to see  them swarming around everywhere. I just hope we can attract more of them to this country. I understand that Japanese generally like to stay in Japanese-owned hotels so we may need to encourage the Japanese to invest in hotels here.
I was recently in Malaysia and there is huge potential there. I realised during my visit that Malaysians were extremely interested in Ireland but it was virtually impossible for us to get literature to give to people. Bord Fáilte have no profile in that part of the world. This is something which should be looked at although they say they do not have the resources to tap this market. That is unfortunate.
Foreign exchange earnings are also, I understand, expected to rise following the CSO report for the period from January to June. They say that earnings in that period increased by 8 per cent. This shows that the objective of attracting higher spending tourists to this country is being met and that is the right road for us to go along. I do not believe that Ireland can compete with places like Malaga or the south of Spain or other places which attract huge numbers of tourists who spend very little. That is not the way we should develop our tourist business.
We have a quality product and that is what we need to concentrate on. We need to improve our standards so that we can offer the very highest standards to visitors. It is encouraging to see that in areas like hygiene and service standards have improved but they still have quite a considerable way to go. What is not so evident and what we need to concentrate on is preserving the character and the special quality of our towns and villages so that they do not become characterless mid-atlantic type places where visitors find nothing to interest them. We had a noteworthy indigenous architecture but in many instances it has given way to ribbon housing development on the outskirts of villages, a bungalow blitz and other unattractive developments. I ask the Minister not to ballyrag the local authorities but to encourage them; they have been ballyragged too long by central Government. I suggest she encourage them to  promote the best types of development and the highest possible standards of design.
I fear that the Government believe we must have development and building at any cost, cranes in the sky; I do not think that is the way forward for us. We need to concentrate on traditional design formations on a suitable scale for the countryside and villages of Ireland. We can have new developments which are modern in the very best sense of the word but not banal. There are many places where this has been achieved. I was in Clonakilty recently and one can only be overjoyed to see how the kind of modern development there has been beautifully integrated into the town. Trinity College Dublin, which is celebrating 400 years, will make an enormous contribution to tourism in 1992, bringing in tens of thousands of new visitors. One has only to walk down the road from here to Trinity College to see the wonderful modern buildings which have in no way detracted from the elegant 18th century atmosphere of the university; they have added to and enhanced it.
We need to remember that people coming here from abroad want different and distinctive cultural experiences. Our remoteness is not necessarily a disadvantage; on the contrary we could use it to great advantage. We will soon be the only island in Europe on the west coast, which is something we could exploit. I am concerned, however, that the substantial European regional development moneys now coming in and the anxiety to get a much as possible from Europe may result in thoughtless building developments. I am thinking particularly of interpretive centres on which there is so much division. The letters columns of the daily papers reveal the extent of local resistance to many of these centres.
We must not spoil the quality of what we have to offer. We should concentrate on cultural and heritage tourism and in this regard it is sad to see the loss of so much fine Irish architecture. The great Irish houses are a case in point and the  papers referred again yesterday to the tragedy of Drogheda grammar school. We have lost so much already and I beg the Minister to intercede and plead with her colleague, the new Minister for the Environment, to introduce the necessary legislation to avert further losses. I am not asking for more funding but for legislation which would allow local authorities to hold on to the best of our architectural heritage. At the moment this area is sadly neglected and needs immediate attention if we are not to lose more of our great heritage.
I congratulate the Minister on her appointment and wish her well in her tenure of office.
Mr. Wright Mr. Wright
Mr. Wright: I welcome the new Minister, Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn, on her much deserved appointment and wish her every success in a very important economic portfolio.
This is a very opportune time for a discussion on tourism. The Government's new policies to support the industry paid rich dividends in 1988, 1989 and 1990. While we acknowledge the destructive impact of the Gulf War in 1991, tourism outcome for the year has been satisfactory considering the difficulties. Since 1988 investment in new projects and infrastructure for tourism have reached record levels so, as we enter 1992, we are in excellent shape to take advantage of further growth. For too long tourism has suffered as a poor relation in our portfolio of economic options. The excellent progress made in such a short period should encourage not only optimism but confidence in what the industry can deliver. Statistics show that since 1987 tourism has contributed 40 per cent of all new jobs created in this country; this amounts to just under 20,000 jobs. When we consider that employment is the main item on the new Government's agenda, I hope that the Minister will use all her efforts to ensure that the tourism success of the last few years will continue with increased investment in tourism.
Foreign revenue from tourism has increased by £400 million in three years  and now stands at £1,200 million. We should continue to invest substantially in tourism to create jobs and to attract foreign revenue, but there is also another reason. Tourism contributes close on £600 million to Government revenue through taxation and this level of contribution is vital to maintain essential services and to create further opportunities.
I would like to pay tribute to Bord Fáilte for the excellent work they have done and for the potential they have demonstrated. It is not all plain sailing. The death and carnage inflicted in Northern Ireland and the activities of terrorists in Britain do a great deal to tarnish the image of Ireland and to create fear among prospective visitors. Senators on all sides of the House have deplored these activities many times for the human suffering and misery they cause, but their indirect economic impact serves to destroy economic opportunities. In my own constituency in north County Dublin I am aware of the opportunities which tourism has brought through new hotels, extensions to existing hotels and the provision of leisure and cultural activities and facilites. We are not yet a rival to Killarney but we have come a long way.
Malahide and Skerries are two of Ireland's tidiest towns and the area can boast some of the best heritage projects in the country and an unequalled potential for golf and leisure. We are now building on these assets and I want to acknowledge the positive role played by Bord Fáilte in the use of EC Structural Funds. Before the end of this month I hope to ses the first sod turned on the new £15 million investment by Mark McCormack in an international golf and leisure project which will be a major boost not just for Portmarnock and Malahide but for the whole country.
As one who has been involved in tidy towns for the last ten years, and Senator Hederman would concur, I am sure that for very little money this competition has contributed significantly to the improvement of our environment. If my recollection is correct, I do not believe Galway has yet achieved the number one spot in that competition, but I am sure  that under the Minister's direction, influence and commitment towns in Galway will begin to feature.
Approximately 20,000 people are involved on a voluntary basis in the Tidy Towns Competition with limited Government investment and I urge the Minister to look at that competition and to offer some recognition to those involved. Bord Fáilte struggled to find sponsors for the competition over the last years and have been lucky to find a financial institution to invest. Fewer than 100 towns were involved in the first Tidy Towns Competition whereas now over 600 communities are involved on a voluntary basis. I hope when the Minister has an opportunity to read her brief she will give serious consideration to improving and promoting this competition further. It is extraordinary how, when holidaying in Ireland, people seek out the towns that do well in the competition, that have made an effort. I have no doubt about the investment consequences for those towns — I know what it has meant to everybody involved in commercial and residential investment in Malahide and we are extremely proud of our success.
In three years we have seen great improvement; our eyes have been opened to tourist potential. It is right for this House to earnestly encourage the Government to give tourism a higher priority, to raise its status as an economic activity. The Taoiseach has already put jobs firmly on top of the Government agenda and tourism is one of the fastest and most effective ways of getting these jobs. I hope tourism will come to be recognised as the best, or one of the best, strategic options open to us. I have every confidence that this Minister will convince those who decide where money should be spent to increase investment in tourism. The record in job creation speaks for itself. Other investments deserve encouragement but tourism affects everyone; it is the life-blood of many towns and cities. I hope the new Administration will give all those connected with the promotion of tourism every support possible and I wish the  Minister good luck in her new portfolio.
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
Mr. Cosgrave: I propose to allocate some of my time to Senator McMahon. I welcome the Minister to the House and congratulate her on her appointment; I wish her every success in the various matters which comprise her portfolio. Without wishing to minimise some of those matters, I hope that the development of tourism and its knock-on effects in relation to job creation and putting Ireland on the world tourism map will be one of her priorities.
We are all concerned that more tourists should visit this country and we need to focus on a strategy to promote tourism. We all congratulate and commend Bord Fáilte for their efforts and in the light of difficulties not of their own making.
In relation to the reduced budget over the last number of years, I hope this Minister will be able to fight for a greater share for tourism and an enlarged grant to Bord Fáilte. We need commitment and a long term strategy. Bord Fáilte have drawn attention to certain matters, such as, product strategy, competitiveness, promotion, distribution, all of which must be examined. In some areas we need to change old ways and in other areas the requirement is to develop and plan ahead. It is disappointing that the tourism grant over the last number of years has been reduced from what it was in the late eighties, but I hope the Minister will give a commitment tonight to reverse this trend. It would be a good start to her tenure to acquire more money for her Department, which could then be allocated to the development of national tourism. I do not wish to be parochial but——
Mr. Mooney Mr. Mooney
Mr. Mooney: You might as well.
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
Mr. Cosgrave:——I would like to congratulate the previous speaker on the part he played in Malahide's tourist success. One matter which will be on——
Mr. Mooney Mr. Mooney
Mr. Mooney: South side forever.
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
Mr. Cosgrave:——the Cabinet table at a future stage will the question of Dún  Laoghaire Harbour which for many tourists is the first sight of Ireland. Another recently appointed colleague who will be fighting this cause very hard is the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy David Andrews. I hope this Minister will acknowledge the need to develop those harbour facilities and to retain the ferry at Dún Laoghaire, in order that people may start their holiday not only in Shannon or Dublin but also at Dún Laoghaire. I am sure Senator Honan will not take exception to anything I have said.
We need to look at various aspects of the tourism industry. Sometimes little things give this country a bad name. One aspect which should be scrutinised is the question of taxi fares. A proportion of people are ripped off from time to time, particularly from Dublin Airport and other arrival and departure points. When visiting other countries we all express surprise at the low cost of taxis but here the bill seems to mount up quickly, leaving one with a sense of being ripped off. The Minister should also examine a warning system in relation to attacks on tourists. We had a tragic incident in the Phoenix Park last year, and other less serious incidents which would not enhance a tourist's memory of Ireland.
Many things need to be looked at. I commend the proposer of and speakers to this motion. It is a motion which we in general terms support even if we are putting down certain riders in relation to money being provided and certain strategies worked out. I hope the Minister will meet people in Bord Fáilte to ensure that Ireland is developed as an all-year around destination, with a variety of holiday opportunities. We are not the Costa del Sol and we must remember that and examine other aspects of our holiday market which could be developed. I support the motion and I hope the Minister will be able to reply.
Mr. McMahon Mr. McMahon
Mr. McMahon: I congratulated the Minister last night, and may I wish her well in her new position? I would like to say publicly that I am delighted she has been appointed to this position although I am somewhat disappointed that she has  been given three portfolios. I would prefer to see her pay all her attention to the tourism industry. I am sure another area of her portfolio will command attention over the next few weeks given the situation in communications.
I know the Minister will be a strong voice for tourism at the Cabinet table, casting no reflection on previous Ministers. Tourism needs a strong voice because the Government contribution to tourism is dwindling. I am therefore amazed at the motion that has come forward from the Fianna Fáil group, signed by each of them, asking us to note the Government's contribution as outlined in the recent budget initiatives. This is a carefully worded motion; it does not congratulate the Government but notes their continued interest in tourism. I would like to see greater interest in tourism and more money being allocated to Bord Fáilte. I congratulate them on the job they have been doing down the years under extreme difficulty, fighting for money and against odds which I am not going to go into here. I am going to deal with other Departments, a Leas-Chathaoirligh, in the few minutes remaining to me although I would like half an hour or more to make a contribution on tourism.
I would like the Minister to note that other Departments give insufficient attention to tourism potential when carrying out certain projects or developments; each year controversial developments are insisted upon by the Office of Public Works; and the latest one by the Department of the Marine. I refer to the seemingly great rush of the Office of Public Works to erect interpretative centres at various locations, the latest in County Wicklow. There seems to be an enormous hurry to erect this interpretative centre at a cost of £3 million. It is subject to a grant from Europe and if not built by a certain date that money may not be available to Wicklow, but residents, including public representatives and those from the Minister's party, feel that it has been rushed, that it has been sited in the wrong place and that a delay  of two or three months to have the situation examined by Trinity College would be worth much to the people of Wicklow and to those who will visit this county, from here and abroad.
I am particularly fond of County Wicklow and I am delighted that a large stretch of the mountain area recently purchased by the previous Government will be turned into a public park. I am delighted to see an interpretative centre coming to that area but I believe it is wrongly sited and I hope there will be a rethink on it. The previous Minister gave the green light to it in the dying days of the last Government and I hope that this Minister will look into this and consider siting it at Roundwood. There are dozen other more suitable sites. However, I leave it to the experts examining the situation at the moment.
The Dingle marina is another contentious subject. It baffles me that, in a democracy where so many people opposed the siting of the second Dingle marina, those who opposed it felt they had been conned because of the 22 objectors offering evidence only two were accepted by the inquiry, while on the other side, those who favoured the marine — 22 or 23 people — were allowed to give evidence. It would be worth the Minister's while to pay a brief visit to Dingle. No doubt she has been there before and is familiar with the area but this 25 acres of foreshore being proposed for the development of 40 houses, and other facilities will block the view of the harbour. I feel for the people of Dingle and for all of those who will visit Dingle in the future, I am frequent visitor there myself. The first sight you get of Dingle is when you turn a corner and descend a hill and it is proposed to put a marina there. This marina is not needed because one is already being constructed. Because of these 40 two-storey houses the approaching visitor will no longer see that beautiful view of Dingle Harbour. I ask the Minister to take a serious look at this. It is not too late because while the Department of the Marine have given licence, planning permission is still required. If that development goes ahead  our democracy is not worth anything because it will have been put there for reasons and purposes other than the requirements of the people of Dingle.
An Leas-Chathaoirleach An Leas-Chathaoirleach
An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Before the Minister speaks, I want to join with other Members in extending heartiest congratulations to the Minister and good luck in her new portfolio.
Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn) Máire Geoghegan-Quinn
Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn): Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a ghlacadh leis na Seanadoirí ar fad a chuir a gcuid chomhghairdis in iúl dom ar mo cheapachán sa Chomh-aireacht. Tá áthas orm gur sa Seanad atá an phribhléid agam mo chéad oráid a thabhairt i dTithe an Oireachtais mar Aire Turasóireachta. Tá súil agam nuair a thiocfaidh mé ar ais i gceann dhá bhliain go leith, mar a dúirt an Seanadóir Honan, go mbeidh daoine chomh geanúil liom an uair sin agus atá siad anocht.
Senator Mooney spelt out in some detail here last week the contribution which tourism now makes to the wealth of this country and all available statistics support this. A recent independent study commissioned by the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation shows that Irish tourism grew twice as fast as the national economy from 1985 to 1990, contributing almost three-quarters of a percentage point each year to the national growth rate and increasing its share of GNP to almost 7 per cent. The study confirms tourism as Ireland's principal internationally traded service accounting for 60 per cent of total exports of services and contributing more than £400 million, or about half the surplus on the overall balance of payments last year.
Tourism was responsible for one in every three jobs created in the economy between 1985 and 1990 and now supports one in every eight jobs in the service sector.
The transformation in the Irish tourism industry did not happen by chance. This spectacular achievement is due to this Government's commitment to the sector  and to the magnificent efforts of all involved in the industry. It justifies in full the Government's confidence in the sector's potential for growth and economic development.
It is now just five years since Fianna Fáil published their ideas for putting growth back into tourism. In that document we committed ourselves to revitalising tourism as a top national priority and this we have done. Since then annual tourism numbers have gone up 66 per cent from 1.8 million to an estimated 3 million and foreign revenue from £650 million to £1.2 billion last year. Over that period there have been considerable improvements in our product range and greater co-ordination in our marketing efforts which have been central to this achievement.
Talking about marketing, may I refer briefly to one of the hot potatoes on my plate in the new Department, referred to by Senator Hourigan last week, and one of the issues on which I was buttonholed by Senator Honan and Deputies de Valera and Daly yesterday immediately following my appointment. I refer to the Shannon stop over.
First, let me reiterate that I and the Government are fully committed to the growth of Shannon and its airport. Over the last 12 months or so my predecessor had discussions with most major US airlines about the possibility of further additional air services to Ireland. He also received proposals from Aer Lingus for expanded services on the North Atlantic route. On Monday next I will be sitting down with representatives from Shannon, from the status committee, from SIGNAL representing the workers, with Aer Lingus, Aer Rianta and SFADCo, to discuss the entire situation, including how best Ireland can win extra business before presenting my proposals to the Government.
The vast improvement in our tourism product range is largely attributable to the implementation of the EC operational programme for tourism for 1989-1993. This programme involves contributions of over £118 million from the European Regional Development Fund  and over £28 million from the Social Fund. It is concerned with the development and marketing of tourist amenities in Ireland to meet demand from identified segments of the international tourist market, thereby enabling achievement of five year sectoral targets for job creation and foreign revenue.
Total investment, from national and EC sources, under the programme, will exceed £300 million by the end of 1993. So far, over 300 projects have been approved for assistance, involving more than £270 million, of which £85 million is being provided by the EC. The administering agencies, SFADCo and Bord Fáilte, are still assessing and evaluating applications and I hope to be making further announcements regarding approved projects in the near future.
Tourists are already enjoying the benefits of this programme with a vast array of new tourism projects now up and running throughout the country. These vary from equestrian centres to golf resorts, from heritage centres to interpretive centres, from water based activities to all-weather activities. In addition to enhancing Ireland's appeal in overseas markets, these facilities, of course, are also providing an added boost to a thriving home holiday market which is now worth about £360 million annually to the economy. This investment by the industry in a wide range of tourism products is helping to boost our off-season business and to ease the problems created by seasonality— an issue referred to by a number of speakers in this debate.
The unique quality of our natural environment is one of our major tourism strengths and remains one of our strongest selling points in our overseas marketing drive. During this debate great emphasis has been placed on the need to protect and conserve our environment. Developments being assisted under the operational programme for tourism must be environmentally sensitive and enhancing. The provisions of the EC environmental impact assessment directive will be applied to specific projects which come within its ambit. We must constantly strive to preserve and enhance our  environment, not alone as an essential contribution towards tourism and other industries but as a key element in our everyday quality of life.
I know a number of Senators have raised specific points. I appreciate Senator Cosgrave and others mentioning the fact that I would need time to read into the brief I have been given. I refer to issues, such as the development of Dún Laoghaire, the interpretive centres and their sensitive development, the air fares problems, which was raised by Senator Staunton, the Dingle marina and other points raised by Senators. I will undertake to look at each of the issues raised last week and this week in this debate and, hopefully, I will be able at least, to further the points made by each speaker.
I would like to refer specifically to a point made by Senator Hederman and Senator Cosgrave in relation to the Bord Fáilte allocation. I would like to remind the House that grant-in-aid to Bord Fáilte Éireann has been held at £21.5 million in cash terms since 1989. Considering the need for significant cutbacks in other areas of public expenditure this, in itself, was an achievement, but, in addition to the grant-in-aid, a further £10 million of Regional Development Fund money is available in the five year period up to the end of 1993 for co-operative marketing.
Overall 1991 proved to be a difficult one for the Irish tourism industry, brought about, as has been referred to by many Senators, by economic recession in some of our main markets and, in particular, by the Gulf crisis. To counteract these problems the Government introduced a number of measures including the allocation of an additional £1 million in the 1991 budget to Bord Fáilte for promotion and marketing in the UK and continental Europe. An additional £1.25 million was also made available from the European Regional Development Fund at a special 75 per cent intervention rate for marketing compaigns in the US and mainland Europe. These measures, together with Bord Fáilte's decision to step up marketing in continental Europe, ensured that the downturn forecast at the  beginning of the year was more or less avoided.
Overseas tourist numbers for the full year were within some 2 per cent of 1990s all-time record performance and, in fact, revenue for the first nine months was up by almost 7 per cent on the corresponding period in 1990.
We aim to get back to double digit growth again this year and all efforts are being concentrated to this end. The recent budget will facilitate this effort. I know that the decision to avoid VAT increases on tourism related expenditure on hotel accommodation, meals and car hire was particularly welcomed by the industry and should help this year's performance.
The problems being experienced by the car hire industry and the repercussions for the tourism industry have also been acknowledged in the budget with the allocation of an additional £1 million to assist this strategically important sector. Other measures, such as the reduction in excise duty on new cars and petrol, will also provide real assistance to the sector. It is hoped that these measures will stimulate an increase in the supply of self-drive cars for hire during the peak season this year, thereby ensuring that valuable revenue is not lost to the industry generally.
Since 1987 we have become somewhat used to seeing tourism records broken on a regular basis. However, we cannot afford to become complacent. Competition is growing keener and new destinations, such as Eastern Europe, are opening up all the time. If we are to continue to grow we need to plan, to invest, to market and to work towards clear and broadly accepted objectives and strategies for the tourism sector.
The recent initiative of my predecessor in establishing a new tourism task force, as suggested by the social partners, is timely. It is appropriate that we should, at this stage in the development of the sector, stop, reflect on our achievements and look at where we go from here. The task force have, therefore, been set an important and challenging task.
 The task force, which will report quickly will first, review, in the light of international commercial and marketing practice and organisation, the recent performance of and the future prospects for the Irish tourism industry with particular emphasis on the creation of additional new employment; second, determine the commercial and marketing opportunities available to the industry in order to capture a greater share of the international tourist market; third, propose creative and innovative approaches to develop the tourist market with a greater role for the commercial sector, and to assist the initiative of local communities in designing commercial packages to develop and market the tourist accommodation and facilities of their areas; and finally, make such other proposals as is thought necessary for the future commercial development of the industry.
The tourism sector has proven its economic worth over the past five years in no uncertain terms and shown quite clearly how it can contribute to wealth and job creation. With that in mind the task force are being asked to plot a strategy which builds on that achievement maintaining vibrancy and growth into the 21st century. The membership of the task force represents a broad spectrum, including product, marketing and commercial interests, most notably the commercial banks. In fact, the banks have already agreed with the social partners to provide £15 million for preferential rate loans to small and medium sized business with employment potential and are prepared to consider other commercially based proposals which can contribute to economic growth and expansion. I look forward to receiving the report of the task force in due course.
Tourism is the principal reason for our participation in the international exhibition in Seville, Spain, this year for which the Government have committed £3.5 million of national lottery funds. That was my responsibility, incidentally, in my former portfolio and has now, through strange chance, reverted back to me. Our main objective in going to Seville is to continue to raise Ireland's  profile on the world map as a tourism destination and as an ideal location for industry with the focus on our young, well educated population.
The exhibition which runs from April to October this year has been billed as one of the most important events before we enter the new millennium. It will not merely be a trade fair but a major cultural event which will provide a showcase for the best of Irish products, talent and culture. The cultural events of the programme will reflect the uniqueness, variety and creative quality of Irish talent and will include performances from Siamsa Tíre, the Gate Theatre, Dé Danann and the Chieftains, to name a few.
All in all, 1992 should be an exciting year for our tourism industry. Already preliminary indications suggest that we can expect significant recovery this year and a return to double digit growth is very much a realistic goal. All the achievements to date have been brought about by the co-ordinated activities and efforts of all sectors and players in our tourism industry, big and small, and they are all being asked to row in behind the national effort again this year to enable us get back on target.
Finally, I wish to express my thanks to the Seanad and, in particular, to Senator Mooney for affording me my first opportunity since my appointment as Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications to speak to the Houses of the Oireachtas. As I have said, I am delighted that opportunity presented itself in Seanad Éireann.
An Cathaoirleach An Cathaoirleach
An Cathaoirleach: May I welcome you again, Minister, to the House and thank you for coming here this evening? I warmly congratulate you on your new role and wish you success. As Senator Mooney will reply at 7.45 p.m. and as Senator Murphy has indicated an interest in speaking, I now call on Senator Murphy who may speak until 7.45 p.m.
Professor Murphy Professor Murphy
Professor Murphy: Go raibh maith agat. I am very thankful to get this——
Mr. Mooney Mr. Mooney
 Mr. Mooney: Sorry, my understanding is that one of my colleagues, Senator O'Keeffe, also wishes to make a contribution.
An Cathaoirleach An Cathaoirleach
An Cathaoirleach: As the Minister has spoken, it should go across to that side of the House.
Professor Murphy Professor Murphy
Professor Murphy: I am thankful to whoever has given me the precious time. In The Irish Times last Saturday there was an interesting article, in the context of our debate this evening, in which a report was carried of a conference in San Francisco where various members of the Irish tourist trade and US tour operators got together and assessed the prospects for the forthcoming season. The bottom line was a guarded optimism. One of the problems worrying the people in the trade is direct access and the fact that, for example, in 1990 the number of visitors who travelled directly from the United States to Ireland was 215,000, while the number who came via Britain was 219,000. In other words, more tourists came via Britain. Those who come via Britain stay only a relatively short period compared to those who come direct. This raises the problem of direct access and indicates beyond doubt that Shannon is a nettle which has to be grasped. I was interested that the Minister, very diplomatically, dodged grasping the nettle — just for the moment— when she said that the matter would be discussed and there would be consultations. However she stopped short of saying that the indirect flight in its present form will be retained. What I am suggesting is that there surely must be a compromise which could safeguard the interests of Shannon and the mid-west and at the same time accommodate these very pressing problems.
I do not have time to put forward my own views except to mention my own pet promotion. This is really for Bord Fáilte rather than for the Minister to take on board. It is the relatively undeveloped state of walking holidays in Ireland. We have a splendid network of roads; we have relatively unimpeded country areas,  unfortunately because of emigration but we should make the best we can of this. We really have not got around to attracting the continental tourists who, above all, would be interested in the prospect of walking holidays, which are independent, for the most part, of seasonal change. In fact, over this fine winter it was almost possible to walk four days out of five. This is something which would appeal to those who are of a certain vintage and who are no longer able to race up the hills.
Last week, Senator Ryan philosophically discoursed on tourism and suggested that he was not too happy about it. I understand in a way the dangers of tourism to the morale and dignity of the people. He also mentioned the situation in parts of Africa and Asia where the local people are made to prostitute their dignity in order to entertain the tourists. It has been said, “tourism corrupts, absolute tourism corrupts absolutely”. I do not entirely agree with the full principle there because if you take it that far you would discourage people from going anywhere. I am not saying that Senator Ryan is guilty of this but there is a kind of person in Ireland who wants to preserve Gaeltacht areas for themselves.
Mr. O'Keeffe Mr. O'Keeffe
Mr. O'Keeffe: I am surprised that you are going down that road.
Professor Murphy Professor Murphy
Professor Murphy: No, no. I have always been a tourism man. I am not clear from the Minister's speech that steps are being taken to do this, but I would like to see the fruits of tourism go to those who supply the muscles, nerves and sinews of the tourism industry. I am not happy that that is so. I suspect that the people who do well out of tourism are those who own the resources of restaurants and hotels and public houses, not those who work in them. I am worried about that.
Sa deireadh thiar thall, a Chathaoirligh, ba mhaith liom a rá go bhfuil anáthas orm go bhfuil an post nua faighte ag an Aire. Tréaslaím a gradam nua léi,  agus tá súil agam go mbeidh gach rath uirthi sna blianta atá le teacht.
I would like to share in the general congratulations to the Minister. It may surprise her to know that I have been praising her in private and I never say in private what I do not say in public.
Mr. Mooney Mr. Mooney
Mr. Mooney: You have come out of the closet.
Mrs. Honan Mrs. Honan
Mrs. Honan: Take a bow, Minister.
Professor Murphy Professor Murphy
Professor Murphy: They know I was born in the Fianna Fáil faith and they are seducing me back to it. Ach, mar a deirim, bheadh an tAire molta dá mbeinnse i mo thost, and I suspect somehow that when the Minister comes back again, the honeymoon will not be over.
Mr. Mooney Mr. Mooney
Mr. Mooney: I am delighted that Senator Murphy was able to have his cúpla focal. The House would have been the poorer without his contribution. I understand I have 15 minutes I would like with the agreement of the Chair, to share five minutes of that time with my colleague, Senator Ó Cuív.
I was trying to search for words, to laud the newly appointed Minister and to rise above mere mediocrity, having listened to my colleagues here. I was thinking of singing “Lovely Leitrim” followed by a bar of “Galway Bay”, in which I am sure my colleague, Senator Murphy, would, not only have joined in, but would have led the assembled chorus in his own inimitable fashion. However, all I can think of is that the Taoiseach has been imaginative in his appointment of someone who is both dynamic and innovative. I could think of many other plaudits but I think I will leave it at. I am sure the Minister will get the drift of what I am saying. I think it is an imaginative and significant appointment for someone——
An Cathaoirleach An Cathaoirleach
An Cathaoirleach: I think the Minister would like new ideas on tourism, Senator Mooney, if you would proceed.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Thank you, I would.
Mr. Mooney Mr. Mooney
 Mr. Mooney: Do you mean to tell me that you are interrupting me in full flow when I am praising my Minister? I am deeply disappointed. I want to pay tribute to the Minister's predecessor, Deputy Séamus Brennan, who also brought his own inimitable style to this very important portfolio and who was always readily available to come to this House and expound and explain Government policy in the area of tourism. I have no doubt from listening to the Minister's speech that many of the intiatives taken by Minister Brennan will be carried on by her and given her inimitable stamp as well, particularly in the area of dispute that has arisen over Shannon. I am particularly pleased the Minister has taken an early initiative on this matter which has obviously cause great concern to the people of the mid-west region.
I presume Shannon is on the agenda because of the competition in the battle of the airways. As someone who comes from County Leitrim and who has found that the Shannon dispute has not impacted to the same extent in my part of the country I hope the Minister will also consider the cases of Cork and Knock airports in the context of any changes or any proposals that will be made that might impact on Shannon's current status.
I have been watching this dispute with growing concern in regard to both sides of the argument and I stay neutral on it, although coming as I do from the west I would have a preference for the status quo. I look forward to the Minister's progress in that area.
The Minister mentioned that the future well-being of the tourism industry in this country will rely, certainly in the short and medium term, to a great extent, on how well we are able to sell our case with our European partners. I would like to add my voice to that. The impact of structural funding on the Irish tourism market cannot be under-estimated and all sides of the House have acknowledged this in one way or another. The Minister has highlighted the matter. If one is to believe the current speculation in relation to the possible increase in Structural Funds as  a result of Maastricht, I could not think of a better Minister, with her vast experience of European affairs, to fight the case in the debate in this area over the next 12 months for an increase in Structural Funds as it affects her portfolio.
While referring to structural funding, I would like to acknowledge and welcome the recent decision of the Government to agree finally to the reopening of the Lough Allen Canal. In tandem with the magnificent work on the Ballinamore/Ballyconnell canal, by the mid-nineties, this will result in one of the most impressive waterways not only in these islands but throughout Europe. Ballinamore/Ballyconnell will link the Erne waterway with the Shannon. The reopening of the remainder of the Lough Allen Canal will open up for the first time in almost 60 years the entire Shannon waterway literally from the Shannon source in the Cuilcagh Mountains down to Lough Allen and all the way to the Shannon Estuary. The impact economically and socially this will have on my part of the country cannot be over estimated and I must publicly pay tribute to all those both at national political level and local community level who have been lobbying so strongly for this project to be completed.
This was a dream, an aspiration, some 30 odd years ago and I cannot allow the occasion to pass without mentioning the initiatives taken by my late father, the former Senator Mooney, in this regard. I am particularly pleased Minister Geoghegan-Quinn, coming as she does from the west of Ireland, and with great awareness and consciousness of the real needs of the region, is in office at a time when this project is coming on stream and I hope that when the reopening takes place in the next 18 months to two years, she will be to the fore, perhaps in the leading boat down Lough Allen towards the Shannon.
Staying with the theme of Europe and Structural Funds, I emphasise to the Minister the importance of progress towards tax harmonisation. In the context of tourism and of attracting substantial tourist numbers to this country,  particularly from continental Europe, we need to get our act together. Notwithstanding the economic difficulties we face, as the Minister pointed out in her speech, it is vital that we move as rapidly as economic conditions allow, towards tax harmonisation. Those of us who saw photographs in the newspapers this morning of the amount of duty-free liquor and cigarettes one can now take into this country under recent European legislation, cannot help but be concerned that unless we harmonise in that area our whole economy my find itself in greater difficulties. It seems to me it is integration by stealth. There are areas in European cohesion and integration where, unless we have a vigilant Government, some of the measures being suggested at European level may not always be in our best interests. We would need to be, and I have no doubt will be, vigilant, specifically as regards liquor. The exicse duty on wine for example is substantially higher than that of our European partners.
As the Minister coincidentally holds not only the brief for tourism but also for communications, I would like to suggest the possibility of investigating whether it would be viable to establish a shortwave radio service to highlight, promote and market and image of Ireland. My understanding from discussions, informally, with colleagues in RTE is that, technically, this is possible and would not be very difficult to set up. What I have in mind is that the programmes which would go out on this network would promote Ireland, the image of Ireland, the culture of Ireland. Senator Hederman tonight, and other speakers last week, spoke of the various parts of the world where Ireland has no profile at all. I am only throwing it in as a matter for debate but it might be worth pursuing and perhaps the Minister would request one of her experts in the Department to tease out the possibility of setting up such a shortwave service in conjunction with RTE. It would have many benefits, not just in the tourism area.
In the context of an increase in structural funding, I would welcome an  increase in European Regional Development Fund funding. Senator McGowan earlier referred to areas in Donegal and he is the only colleague of mine here this evening who comes from a Border county. He will testify to the tremendous impact that European Regional Development Fund funding has had on tourism in the Border counties over recent years. Without European Regional Development Fund funding it would not have been possible to have achieved many of the things we have done. The bandwagon is now rolling in that area and I hope the Minister, being from the west and being so intimately aware of the disadvantages at infrastructural level that we have there, will press as hard as she can for continuing an increase in European Regional Development Fund funding.
Mr. O'Keeffe Mr. O'Keeffe
Mr. O'Keeffe: First of all, I would like to welcome this very talented Minister. I know she will do an excellent job.
May I be parochial? For the first time last year the Cork-Swansea ferry came into a profit situation. We have a cash flow problem in terms of the operation of that service. It brought in 135,000 persons last year and in excess of 30,000 cars. It is extremely important to the Cork-Kerry area and we would like the Minister to continue to renew the £500,000 loan to that service. It is a lifeline to us in terms of tourism.
Éamon Ó Cuív Éamon Ó Cuív
Éamon Ó Cuív: I dtosach báire ba mhaith liom fíorfháilte a chur roimh an Aire go dtí an Teach agus comhghairdeas a dhéanamh léi. Tá a fhios agam go dtuigeann bean as an taobh sin tíre na fadhbanna agus na buntáistí a bhaineann le cúrsaí turasóireachta, san iarthar go mórmhór, agus tá a fhios agam go n-éireoidh léi an jab a dhéanamh thar cionn. Tá an t-uafás a ba mhaith liom a rá, ach níl an t-am agam chuige. Ach díreach mar cheannlínte, sílim féin go gcaithfimid béim faoi leith a chur ar an turasóireacht chultúrtha; tá na deiseanna ansin ach níl an ghné sin forbartha chomh maith agus go bhféadfadh sé a bheith. An dara rud ná go bhfuil fadhbanna go minic, go mórmhór ag dreamanna áitiúla,  ag daoine amuigh faoin tuath, leis na coinníollacha a bhaineann le matching capital a chur ar fáil d'eagraíochtaí éagsúla, agus b'fhéidir go bhféadfadh an tAire breathnú ar an gceist sin ar fad.
Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil go leor oibre déanta leis na deontais atá ann, ach tá an fhadhb sin ann, go háirithe sna ceantair iargúlta. An tríú rud ná go gcaithfimid tuilleadh ama thabhairt, nó tuilleadh plé a dhéanamh ar bhealaí gur féidir an séasúr a dhéanamh níos faide amuigh ar an imeall. Mar cheann de na fadhbanna atá in áiteanna, go mórmhór snaháiteanna is faide amach - níl sé chomh dona sna bailte móra — go bhfuil séasúr an-ghearr turasóireachta ann faoi láthair. Rud eile go gcreidim go mba cheart díriú air ná na bealaí go bhféadfadh an earnáil phríobháideach agus an Stát a dhul i gcomhpháirtíocht maidir le forbairt a bhaineann le háiseanna seandálaíochta, seanachaisleáin agus mar sin de. Tuigim na srianta airgid atá ar an Stát ach le compháirtochat idir seandálaithe, abramis, ó na hollscoileanna, Bord na nOibreacha Poiblí agus an earnáil phríobháideach, ba cheart go mbeifí in ann níos mó leasa a bhaint as na láithreacha stairiúla atá ann ar fud na tíre.
Rud eile a bheadh ag déanamh beagnach imní dom faoi chuid de na scéimeanna deontais an méid iarratas agus an t-airgead ar fad atá caite ar iarratais agus b'fhéidir nach gceadaítear ach an cúigiú nó an séú cuid acu. Tá daoine go mór thiar leis seo agus dá mbeadh aon bhealach réamhscagtha ann le teacht ar na hiarratais is tairbhí sula mbeadh caiteachas mór airgid i gceist do dhaoine, creidim go sábhálfaí go leor airgid agus an-stró ar dhaoine.
Má tá ag dul a éirí le turasóireacht sa tír se, caithfimid breathnú amach. Mar shampla, rud a chuireann as go mór domsa sa taobh gur as mise ná go bhfuil radharcanna breátha ann ach go bhfuil siad scriosta ag claíocha arda nach féidir breathnú tharstu ar an tír álainn atá timpeall orainn. Caithfimid breathnú ar an gcomhshaol go ginearálta i gcomhthéacs na turasóireachta agus, b'fhéidir, beagainín níos mó airgid a chaitheamh air sin  le féachaint chuige go bhfuil an tír ag breathnú go maith do na turasóirí nuair a thagann siad anseo.
Ar deireadh, arís déanaim comhghairdeas leis an Aire agus guím go n-éireoidh go maith léi sa jab sna blianta atá ag teacht.
Question put and agreed to.
An Cathaoirleach An Cathaoirleach
An Cathaoirleach: When is it proposed to sit again?
Mr. McGowan Mr. McGowan
Mr. McGowan: It is proposed to sit at 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.
Seanad Éireann 131 Tourism Industry: Motion (Resumed).