Dáil Éireann - Volume 623 - 04 July, 2006

Written Answers. - Tourism Promotion.

Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the funding he is providing for the promotion of tourism in the Border region; if he has satisfied himself that there is sufficient cross border involvement to maximise the tourism potential of that area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26367/06]

  Mr. O’Donoghue:The allocation of funding to specific cross-border initiatives is a day-to-day matter for Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland. As the Deputy will be aware, I have secured an unprecedented level of funding for tourism promotion generally which has been distributed to the Tourism agencies to support their business plans this year. The Deputy will also be aware that the promotion of tourism in the BMW area is a key priority under the National Development Plan and has been prioritised again in the objectives and targets set out in the “New Horizons for Irish Tourism” report where the target is to double the number of overseas promotable visitors staying at least one night in the Border Midland and Western (BMW) region by 2012.

In terms of North-South cooperation, tourism is widely considered to be the best example of the tangible benefits to be derived from working together on an all-island basis. The work of the Tourism Agencies, North and South, and their business partners continues to inspire all of those who are working towards a vision of an island economy based on practical co-operation and mutual benefit. Through the all-island Tourism Marketing Partnership, the three tourism agencies — Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board — together with the industry on the island are working to develop a cohesive and integrated approach to their overseas marketing activities, including potential synergies in Niche/Special Interest Tourism areas. Apart from the international marketing of Ireland as a single tourist destination, there are many other initiatives currently underway to promote cross-border tourism. These include Rally Ireland, the cross-border event held in March to showcase Ireland as a suitable venue for a World Rally Championship event; the North West Passage tourist route; the North West Trail for cycling and walking; Destination North West, a cross-border co-operative arrangement between tourism development and marketing agencies in the [392] Northwest region, Glens and Lakelands is a similar linked venture covering Cavan, Monaghan and parts of Antrim; Green Box Eco-Tourism project, an EU-funded project designating a cross-border area as Ireland’s first integrated eco-tourism destination, which also incorporates the EU-funded Kingfisher Cycle trail; North-South co-operation in the field of tourism statistics. The development of closer cooperation on tourism research has also been identified as a key priority going forward.

In terms of future cross-border initiatives, I understand the three tourism Agencies on the island have been working together to identify priorities for tourism development in the border region and the results of this work will feed into the development of the next Interreg and Peace Programmes.