Revenue from overseas visitors grew by nearly 9 per cent between January and June of this year which is an additional €123 million compared to the same six-month period in 2013. However while the tourism experience offered in Ireland is unrivalled, we cannot rest on our laurels. Since The Gathering, the government has neglected tourism product development and domestic and overseas marketing. This is reflected in a 17.5% reduction in funding since 2012. While recent trends in tourism are encouraging, there is a risk that a proportion of the increases in visitors’ numbers are due to the euro devaluation against the dollar and sterling.
Therefore we cannot afford to neglect the overall quality of the tourism offering in the country. The government has a key role in supporting tourism product development, regional balance and domestic and overseas marketing. Further innovative projects, such as the Wild Atlantic Way are required with the goal of increasing tourism numbers overall, and more especially to promote a more even distribution of tourism across regions. Fianna Fáil will take tourism promotion seriously, as a major plank of our rural development policy. Undertaking targeted initiatives to promote a more balanced regional distribution of visitors is a key plank of our tourism policy.