Thursday, 31 March 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
2. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport in order to boost tourism in east Cork and to create tourism related jobs, if he will support initiatives including the reopening of the Midleton to Youghal railway line. [6335/11]
Deputy Jimmy Deenihan: As the Deputy will appreciate the reopening of the Midleton to Youghal railway line is not a matter for me but a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Transport who will be the Minister with responsibility for tourism shortly.
Furthermore, under the National Tourism Development Authority Act, Fáilte Ireland has the devolved function to encourage, promote and support the development and marketing of tourist facilities and services within the State. Therefore, the matter of regional tourism development raised by the Deputy is for Fáilte Ireland to consider as part of its day to day activities to support the tourism sector.
As the Deputy may be aware, Fáilte Ireland works with the tourism industry nationally to develop the sector, including the development of quality tourism product, domestic tourism marketing, funding for festivals and events, the development and implementation of tourism standards, enterprise support, capability building and human resource development for the tourism industry.
For the Deputy’s information, I am advised that the following initiatives are under way to assist tourism businesses in east Cork, including Youghal and its environs: the Family Fun initiative to help local businesses improve their offering and marketing to the family market; business development supports to develop a broad range of skills, including marketing and sales, culinary skills, customer service, finance and business management and development; overseas sales and marketing supports to assist tourism businesses in accessing overseas markets; an angling initiative to support angling businesses in the area to maximise their potential in targeting tourists; helping activity providers grow their business, particularly water-based activities; discussion with the local authority on potential capital and infrastructural projects, in particular relating to improved beach and coastal facilities in the Youghal area; and the promotion of festivals and events in east Cork through the tourist information office network and the Discover Ireland website and campaign platforms.
I might add that Fáilte Ireland’s enterprise development team in Cork is working closely with businesses in east Cork and is happy to meet individuals or groups to deal with queries to maximise the potential of the region.
It is essential that the Midleton to Youghal railway line is reopened for the sake of boosting tourism in east Cork. Businesses would benefit from more trade, while the local economy in Youghal would benefit from increased tourism. There are many opportunities for tourism promotion in east Cork which includes the Cobh Heritage Centre, Fota Wildlife Park, the Jameson Heritage Centre in Midleton and various sites of historical significance in Youghal. We should focus on bringing visitors to this area. Will the Minister work with the Minister for Transport to establish steam train excursions from Youghal to Midleton, beginning with a feasibility study of reopening the line? The tourism sector in Youghal could form part of a broader strategy to enhance the local economy and increase local employment.
As someone who was involved in the completion of a railway project, I am aware of the fascination people have with railways. A strong case can be made for the restoration of any railway line anywhere in the country. One of the major attractions of the English market is the number of railway enthusiasts there. Although the Lartigue monorail project in which I am involved is a small heritage railway scheme, it attracts a significant number of visitors from the United Kingdom because it is the only one of its type in the world. The railway project to which the Deputy refers appears to make a lot of sense. The Government is seeking to identify major projects to provide employment, whether directly or indirectly, and this project should be examined carefully in that context. As I am a railway enthusiast, any proposal for a railway project excites me personally.
I thank the Deputy for raising the issue. It is the first question of a local nature I have noticed since I began asking questions from the other side of the House. Usually such questions are disallowed, but it is welcome that they are now being taken. I am sure the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, will be delighted to answer such questions.
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