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Written Answers - Tourism Industry

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 765 No. 3

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 539.  Deputy Jim Daly Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly  asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar  his views on the prospects for Irish tourism during the course of 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23808/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar According to the Central Statistics Office, there were over 6.5 million overseas visits to Ireland in 2011 — an increase of 6% on 2010 and the first growth since 2007. This was supported by the Government’s actions in the Jobs Initiative such as reducing VAT on certain tourism services to 9%; the Visa Waiver Programme; and halving employers’ PRSI for those on modest wages.

Looking to 2012, I am confident of achieving our target of a 4.5% increase in overseas visits for the full year. While overall visits decreased marginally in the first quarter of 2012, prospects remain strong for the year as a whole. The tourist industry is positive about the coming months, reporting increased enquiries and advance bookings compared to this time last year. Notably, visits from our most important market, Great Britain, continued to grow even in the low season.

Many factors should improve tourism performance in 2012, including increased capacity of around 3% on summer flights into Ireland and the most competitively-priced hotel rooms in Western Europe, as well as the provision of over €143 million in the Tourism Services budget to support marketing, tourism product investment and business supports.

The tourism agencies are promoting many exciting events this year, including the grand finale of the Volvo Ocean Race in Galway and the Notre Dame-Navy American football game at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium. Tourism Ireland is actively promoting Ireland in all our overseas markets and has put in place a new advertising campaign including TV, print media and online activity. In the domestic market, Fáilte Ireland has strong indications that more Irish people will holiday at home this year and is working hard to attract this market.The Government, tourism agencies and the tourist industry continue to take every opportunity to keep Ireland at the forefront of potential visitors’ minds, working together to achieve growth in 2012.

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