To ask the Minister for Transport the reason the €53 million Mid-West Tourism and Economic Development Plan to address the impact of open skies on Shannon Airport and the mid-west region was not funded; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Kieran O'Donnell.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 5th February, 2008.
Ref No: 3905/08
Answered by Minister for Transport
On 24 January 2008, I jointly announced with the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, that the Government has approved an Economic & Tourism Development Plan for Shannon Airport and its wider catchment area. The Report is available on the websites of both departments.
The Economic & Tourism Development Plan will facilitate the completion of a package of measures leading to improved road and rail access for the Shannon region and the continued rollout of broadband infrastructure throughout the region. There is very significant investment planned for the region under the NDP and Transport 21. In transport infrastructure alone €2 billion has been committed by Government to road projects in the region while approval for the development of the first phase of the Western Rail Corridor from Ennis to Athenry has also been given.
An important element of the Action Plan is a new tourism-marketing initiative for the area. This initiative amounts to an anticipated €15 to €20 million over the next few years and will be implemented by Tourism Ireland in close consultation with key tourism industry interests in the area, Shannon Development and the Fáilte Ireland Regions. The continuing commitment to funding beyond 2008 will, as is the case with all tourism marketing plans, be finalised in the roll out of this new initiative each year. The primary objective of the initiative will be to promote the wider catchment area of Shannon Airport by highlighting the attractions of the region through additional publicity and promotional activity.
Under the 2008 Estimates of the Department of Arts, Sport & Tourism an extra €5 million has been invested in the Tourism Marketing Fund, bringing it to €50 million. This includes incremental funding of €3 million to specifically address the challenges of Open Skies in 2008. When combined with the renewal of the Superregions and Air Access marketing initiatives, the result will be €5 million for the Shannon Catchment Area in Tourism Ireland's 2008 overseas marketing programme. The new tourism marketing programme will concentrate on highlighting the attractions of the Western regions, additional targeted publicity and promotional activity, developing markets around new gateways, including the Shannon-Paris CDG route, and striving to maintain good flows of business through existing routes.
In drawing up this Plan, I consulted with colleagues Ministers for Arts, Sport & Tourism, Enterprise Trade & Employment, Finance, and Communications Energy and Natural Resources. I also had regard to the report entitled "Mid-West Tourism & Economic Development Plan" submitted in 2006 to my Department by a group under the aegis of the Mid-West Regional Authority and comprising Clare County Council, Shannon Development, Shannon Airport Authority, SIGNAL and IBEC.