Wednesday, 13 October 1999
Dáil Éireann Debate
Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation (Dr. McDaid): The overseas tourism marketing initiative – OTMI – was established and has operated under the Operational Programme for Tourism 1994-99, which expires at the end of the year. The monitoring committee for the operational programme, however, has made provision for an allocation of approximately £3 million in EU funding for OTMI activities in 2000. This funding must be contractually committed before the end of December 1999. Matching funds from the Exchequer, private sector and Northern Ireland sources will, it is expected, bring the OTMI budget for 2000 to approximately £6.5 million, which is broadly in line with its income over the last few years.
It is envisaged that the OTMI, which is a private company limited by guarantee, will continue in existence for such time as is required to discharge its legal responsibilities in respect of contractual marketing commitments taken before the end of 1999.
I am, as I have stated in the House on many occasions, committed to securing an adequate tourism marketing fund for the next planning period. To this end, my Department has made a strong case to the Department of Finance for funding for tourism marketing under the National  Development Plan 2000-06 and I am hopeful of a positive outcome. I am also committed to continuing to work in partnership with the industry in our international marketing efforts and, for the past two years, have been in consultation with the industry, through its representative body, the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation – ITIC – regarding the strategy for tourism under the next national plan. We are agreed that we must continue to work together to develop our tourism industry in the key areas of marketing, human resources and product development, and the precise delivery mechanisms for international tourism marketing for 2000-06 will be decided in the context of the finalising of the national development plan which is expected to be published later this year.
My comments, I must stress, are without prejudice to the establishment of an all-island tourism marketing company as envisaged in the joint statement by Northern Ireland's First and Deputy First Ministers designate on 18 December 1998. Progress on North-South implementation and co-operation bodies are subject to wider political agreement on the implementation of the Good Friday multi-party Agreement.
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