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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 72 - 80
 Header Item Tourism Industry Issues
 Header Item Safety at Sea Issues
 Header Item Public Transport Provision
 Header Item The Gathering Initiatives
 Header Item Adventure Centres
 Header Item Public Transport Provision

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 803 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 72 - 80

Tourism Industry Issues

 72. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the degree to which he and or his Department has studied tourism development in other jurisdictions within the EU and without; the extent to which market research has been utilised to determine the issues most likely to attract visitors; if architectural heritage and cultural themes have been utilised sufficiently in this country; if the attraction of national monuments and or sites could be enhanced by any particular strategy with a view to dramatically increasing national and international interest in such locations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22953/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The matter raised is an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland. I have referred the Deputy's question to the tourism agencies for direct reply. Will the Deputy please advise my private office if he does not receive a reply within ten working days.

  Question No. 73 answered with Question No. 38.

Safety at Sea Issues

 74. Deputy Noel Harrington Information on Noel Harrington Zoom on Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will initiate a cross-departmental review of maritime safety and investigate the possibility of putting in place a maritime safety strategy modelled on the road safety strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22680/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar One of my Ministerial Priorities for 2013 is to implement a Maritime 'Safety at Sea' initiative.

As part of the on-going work within my Department there is a constant focus on enhancing safety and the promotion of a culture of high safety standards within all sectors of the maritime community. Our Safety at Sea agenda is constantly being developed in line with developments across the maritime sector in terms of internationally recognised safety Conventions, safety standards, Codes of Practice, and the promotion of a culture of safety among those who go to sea for leisure or to earn their living. The importance of ensuring the provision of search and rescue response capability is also vital.

As part of this on-going work, in conjunction with my colleague Simon Coveney TD Minister for Agriculture and the Marine, I have been developing measures aimed at improving safety at sea for the fishing industry. Our Departments are working together with Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) to bring forward proposals for an Enhanced Safety Equipment and Training Scheme for Fishermen. Options on grant-aid of safety equipment, such as Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacons, Personal Locator Beacons, are being assessed. Stronger enforcement of safety regulations and more comprehensive safety training requirements in this scheme will deliver a significant positive change in relation to safety in the fishing sector.

My Department is currently considering the need for a cross - Governmental strategy on maritime safety and how such a strategy could be progressed in an integrated way for the sector. I expect to complete this consideration shortly and on foot of which will present proposals to Government. The focus of any strategy will be on the development of a culture of safety amongst seafarers and the crucial role of regulation and enforcement, particularly in relation to vessel inspection and certification and the certification and training of seafarers.

Public Transport Provision

 75. Deputy Seamus Kirk Information on Seamus Kirk Zoom on Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the role Transport for Ireland has played in progressing the public transport service; the progress the body has made to date on real time information for public transport services; the costs of establishing this real time service; the further steps that will be taken by that body in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22983/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. Following the establishment of the National Transport Authority (NTA) in December 2009, the implementation and development of infrastructure projects in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), such as Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) as well as the development and implementation of a single transport brand, come under the remit of the NTA.

Noting this I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Will the Deputy please advise my private office if he does not receive a reply within 10 working days.

The Gathering Initiatives

 76. Deputy Joe O'Reilly Information on Joe O'Reilly Zoom on Joe O'Reilly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide an update on the Gathering 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22687/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am pleased to report continued good progress on the Gathering Ireland 2013 - Ireland's biggest ever tourism initiative. The overall target is to attract at least 325,000 extra overseas visits to Ireland in 2013. If this target is achieved, it will generate an additional €170 million in revenue this year, based on historic spending patterns. Recent figures from the CSO show visit numbers for the first quarter of 2013 up over 86,000 compared to the corresponding period of 2012. This represents an encouraging start to 2013.

In terms of resources, the 2013 Estimates allocations to Fáilte Ireland include a special provision of €7 million which was specifically provided for The Gathering. This amount is to be used exclusively to fund the promotion, development and legacy of the event and complements support for the initiative from the tourism agencies' mainstream activities and from national and local partners.

The general response from the public and tourism stakeholders has been overwhelmingly positive. There are now over 3,500 individual gatherings confirmed on the Gathering website. These include clan gatherings, festivals, special sporting events and concerts taking place all across the country throughout the year. Along with well-established events and festivals, we are also supporting a specially targeted set of events for the Gathering, such as the very successful New Year's Eve Event in Dublin, while over 6,000 overseas visitors took part in the People's Parade in Dublin during the St. Patrick's day festivities.

Obviously the ambitious targets for overseas visits and associated revenue can only be achieved if people in our main source tourism markets are aware of the initiative. Tourism Ireland continues to mount a major consumer campaign to promote The Gathering to the people across the world that feel linked by family, friends or otherwise with Ireland. The agency is undertaking cooperative activity with the major airlines and ferry operators to highlight the value fares that are on offer. My colleague, Minister Michael Ring recently launched a brand new app for iPhones and android devices which has been specifically designed for The Gathering Ireland 2013. The "Gathering Gestures"  app which is free to download has been created by Tourism Ireland and offers a variety of offers to ensure our overseas visitors get even more from their holiday here.

While progress to date has been encouraging, as I have previously stated, all tourism stakeholders must continue to work hard to ensure that the full potential of the Gathering is realised.

Adventure Centres

 77. Deputy Ray Butler Information on Ray Butler Zoom on Ray Butler asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his plans to introduce legislation to regulate commercial centres that provide activity sports, for example, canoeing, kayaking and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22682/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Adventure Activities Standards Authority Act, 2001 made provision for the establishment by the Minister for Marine and Natural Resources of an Adventure Activities Standards Authority, which would have responsibility for the regulation of adventure centres. However, the Act was not commenced and the body was not subsequently put in place.

Following detailed consideration of the matter it is now intended that the measures outlined in the Adventure Activities Standards Authority Act, 2001 do not represent the most suitable approach to deal with this issue, and it is proposed that this legislation will be repealed, and this matter be addressed by incorporating provisions in the forthcoming Sports Ireland Bill. The Sports Ireland Bill will merge the Irish Sports Council and the National Sports Campus Development Authority and it is proposed that the new body, Sports Ireland will be  required to maintain a register of all adventure centres. The legislation will make it an offence to operate as an adventure centre if not on the register and allow Sports Ireland to set standards and charges for inclusion on the register.

The Heads of the Sports Ireland Bill are currently receiving consideration within my Department. It is hoped to bring these Heads to Government in the next while, and once the Heads of the Bill have been approved by Government, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications will be invited to consider the matter before the drafting of the Bill itself begins.

  Question No. 78 answered with Question No. 21.

Public Transport Provision

 79. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will outline any adverse implications that upcoming planning permission expirations in relation to the development by the Spencer Dock Development Company at Spencer Dock, Dublin 1 may have upon future plans by the State to construct key elements of the DART underground rail interconnector at the site or adjacent to it; the way he intends to deal with these matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22770/13]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The DART Underground has been postponed but will be reviewed in the context of the next capital programme which will cover the period from 2016 onwards. The project still remains a key element of the overall transport integration strategy.

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.  Following the establishment of the National Transport Authority (NTA) in December 2009, issues concerning the planning and development of infrastructure projects in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), such as the Dart Underground Project, come under the remit of the NTA. 

Noting this I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply.  Will the Deputy please advise my private office if she does not receive a reply within 10 working days?

  Question No. 80 answered with Question No. 52.


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