Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
119. Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the policies or initiatives he has undertaken to increase public perception of the importance of tourism to the economy here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37382/09]
Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism (Deputy Martin Cullen): As one of our longest standing competitive and significant internationally traded services, tourism is a key driver of social and economic development at both national and regional levels in Ireland. Tourism — through the strength of our tourism brand and the quality of the tourist experience — also plays a central role in creating a positive image of Ireland. The recent Report of the Tourism Renewal Group, which was launched on 8 October 2009, endorses this view and clearly sets out tourism’s contribution to Ireland’s economic, social and cultural development. One of my priorities as Minister has been to ensure that the important contribution of tourism is widely recognised and that the tourism agenda is accommodated in all the relevant policies and programmes that impact on tourism. This is being put into practice by my Department and the tourism agencies through engagement with the relevant Departments and agencies.
For example, the importance of the tourism sector is recognised and reflected in the Government’s Policy Document, Building Ireland’s Smart Economy: A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal. This makes specific reference to the potential of the tourism sector, highlighting the importance of tourism as a competitive and significant internationally-traded services enterprise as well as its role in strengthening the image of Ireland abroad and its attractiveness as a place to live, work, invest and do business.
I am a member of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Economic Renewal, charged with driving implementation of the Government’s Framework Policy Building Ireland’s Smart Economy. Furthermore, while my Department is represented at the National Competitiveness Council (NCC), which has included tourism in its consideration of key exporting sectors. Tourism was also one of the topics considered at last month’s Global Economic Forum in Farmleigh, the output of which again highlights the importance of tourism and raises its profile.
Promoting public recognition of the importance of tourism to the economy is an ongoing task for Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, and a number of different opportunities are taken to communicate this message. For example, in summer 2008, Fáilte Ireland launched a nationwide billboard campaign designed to remind the public at large of the significant contribution made by tourism to the Irish economy. A module on Tourism Studies has been developed for Transition Year students, highlighting, among other issues, the strategic importance of the tourism industry within the wider economy. As a key element in its research programme, Fáilte Ireland also routinely monitors the economic contribution of tourism and publishes the key points in its annual Tourism Fact Cards, highlighting the economic and employment benefits of tourism.
As I said at the launch of the Report of the Tourism Renewal Group, the very fact that tourism is so central to Irish life and prosperity can make it less visible and valued than it should be. Nevertheless, much work is being done to raise awareness of the important economic, social and cultural contribution of tourism, amongst the general public and across the relevant Government Departments and agencies. The Report of the Tourism Renewal Group will help me, my Department and the tourism agencies to build on this work and to heighten further the public recognition of the importance of tourism.
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